Clinical Trials are research studies that test new ways to manage, treat and prevent asthma, allergies and other diseases. Clinical trials provide information about the safety and effectiveness of new approaches to see if they should become widely available. Most current treatments for asthma and allergies were first shown to be effective through clinical trials.

Clinical trials add to the progress that is being made in the treatment of asthma. They answer important scientific questions and lead to future research. Many people with asthma and allergies live with an improved quality of life because of progress made through clinical trials.

Clinical trials for new treatments involve several steps, called phases. Each phase of a clinical trial answers a different question about the disease and its treatment. Clinical trials follow very strict procedures and ethical standards that protect the participants’ health, safety and privacy.

Trials are carefully designed to have as few risks and as many benefits as possible for everyone who takes party, but each one offers its own possible benefits and risks. It is important to discuss these first with your healthcare practitioner.

Government and international regulations and policies are in place to make sure that research involving people is done according to strict scientific and ethical guidelines. Clinical trial protocols are reviewed by a panel of at least 5 people at the hospital, clinic or university before the trial begins. Many trials also require Health Canada’s approval. The panel, call and Institutional Review Board (IRB), includes doctors, scientists and members of the general public. IRBs help to protect the people who take part in a clinical trial. They also ensure that the trial is well designed, legal and ethical and that it does not involve unnecessary risks.

There are many reasons why someone may choose to take part in a clinical trial. Most people who take part in clinical trials do so for personal reasons. Before deciding whether a clinical trial is an option for you, or someone you care about, it’s important to learn all you can. While a clinical trial may be a good choice for some people with asthma and/or allergies, it may not be the best choice for others. If you are thinking of participating in a clinical trial, talk to your doctor or healthcare practitioner, so you can make the best choice for you.

For a current list of clinical trials, visit the following websites:

Health Canada’s Clinical Trials Database

ClinicalTrials.gov

Please note that information on clinical trials websites are often developed for researchers and may include medical language that can be difficult to understand. You may also want to ask your doctor about privately funded trials or those funded by drug companies that may not be listed on these websites.