DID YOU KNOW that at any given time in the U.S. there over 900 clinical trials underway to study improved treatments and/or possible cures for diabetes? Can you imagine the time, effort, and money at work here?
Yet surprisingly, despite the estimated 21 million people with diabetes in this country, most of these projects are struggling to find enough patients willing and able to participate. Why? Mainly because most patients either aren't aware of these studies or can't be bothered to sign up.
"Lots of trials are very narrowly limited to one or a few institutions," Kate Lorig tells me. She is the director of the patient education research center at Stanford Medical Center. "If being in a trial requires going to see an unknown doctor at a distant location, many people won't participate. On top of that, the vast majority of diabetes patients see a primary care physician rather than an endocrinologist or diabetologist, so they'd be much less likely to hear about diabetes studies."
It's crazy, really, when you think about the potential benefits of participating in studies —- whether for new drugs, new devices, or new software tracking programs. Your health gets lots of extra professional attention; you get access to some excellent new treatments, usually for free, since the sponsoring company pays for supplies and exams; and many studies even pay people to participate or offer incentives, such as a $10 Amazon.com certificate for each questionnaire filled out in a current Stanford web-based study. Also, some people find they get their best care and motivation when involved in this kind of program.
Plus you get the satisfaction of knowing that you're helping the diabetes community and future generations by fostering important scientific advances. So are you sold yet? Check out the National Institute of Health (NIH) web site ClinicalTrials.gov for a complete list of diabetes studies recruiting around the country. Also, there's a whole association of Clinical Research Organizations (CROs) who act as go-between for companies, physicians, clinics, and regional centers looking to recruit patients into new drug and device trials.
Of course, if you're considering volunteering, it's always SAFETY FIRST. You'll want to understand which phase a study is in:
Phase I - generally a brand new drug or treatment given to a small group of people (20-80) for the first time to evaluate safety and side effects.
Phase II - a study on a larger group of people (100-300), for effectiveness.
Phase III - the new drug is given to very large groups of people (1,000-3,000) to confirm its effectiveness compared to existing treatments
Phase IV - studies that monitor the effects of long-term use of the drug or treatment, usually conducted after it has been approved by FDA.
Hey Neighbors! If you live in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area (Northern California), I have a clinical research outlet for you: the Mills-Peninsula Dorothy & James Frank Diabetes Research Institute, headed by the founder of the Diabetes Technology Society, Dr. David Klonoff. I happen to know that they are looking for participants with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, currently on or off insulin, for a variety of studies, including... a new class of rapid-acting insulin, inhaled insulin, a glucose clamp device, and new insulin delivery devices. Contact them at 650-696-4261. And let me know how it goes, will ya?