The Types of Clinical Trials

mother and daughter smilingBefore a new drug, surgical procedure, or therapy becomes available to the

public, it must go through a rigorous testing process and be evaluated by the US
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This testing process consists of a series of
clinical trials that are designed to test the safety and usefulness of the new
drug compared to the current standard treatment.

The clinical trials that make headlines are usually what are called phase III
trials. These are large-scale tests with hundreds or thousands of patients. They
are the culmination of earlier phase I and phase II trials that include many
fewer people and still earlier preclinical experiments with animals. They are
also the final tests in humans before the FDA is asked to authorize sale of new
medicines.