Caring Currents

Want to Participate in an Alzheimer's Disease Clinical Trial?

Last updated: May 31, 2008

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Would you encourage a loved one to try an exciting new drug that promises to halt or treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease? What if the drug were only in the testing phase?

Patient participation in research for Alzheimer's disease is low -- too low to move the testing phase of the many candidate drugs in the pipeline as quickly as many researchers wish. Last week the Alzheimer's Research Forum presented a great examination of why this is, and anyone who's ever wondered about clinical trials or dreams of new treatment drugs should read it.

Among the reasons too few participate:

  • Questions about informed consent among the mentally impaired.
  • It can be a burden for caregiver and participant.
  • Nobody wants to be the one getting the placebo (the dummy, so to speak, for the control group, against which the takers of the actual drug is compared).
  • People just don't know how to enroll in trials -- and according to a new survey,  9 out of 10 patients have never been told about trials by a doctor.

If you're intrigued, check out the federal Alzheimer's Disease Clinical Trials Database . Given that human testing on promising drugs is needed before they can be available to all (even though the reality is that more clinical trials fail than succeed), would your loved one participate? Could she? Has she? Would you urge someone else to do the same, or not?

Image by Flickr user e-magic , used under the Creative Commons attribution license.