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At a recent BlogHer Health event, Pfizer and BlogHer partnered with a panel of experts, medical professionals, and advocates to shed light on inclusivity in the healthcare field, specifically highlighting the importance of clinical trials. Guests and speakers included The Talk Co-Host Amanda Kloots who moderated the panel, Head of Clinical Trial Experience at Pfizer Judy Sewards, Founder and Creative Director of Living Notes Olya Hill, and Dermatologist and Clinical Professor at Harbor University in California Dr. Jennifer Soung.

For people who don’t have a background in medicine or science, it’s understandable that their knowledge of clinical trials may be lacking. As Amanda noted, when her husband was sick, she received a call for him to participate in a clinical trial but was confused as to what that was or entailed. Fortunately, Judy was on hand to provide an explanation. “I want to start off by saying that probably every medicine that’s modern that you take today has first been tested in clinical trials,” says Judy. “Clinical trials are the only way that more breakthroughs in medicine can come and be available to people around the world who need them.”

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She further explains that a clinical trial is a way medical researchers and doctors test to see if a potential medicine or vaccine is safe and effective for use on people. They’re done with the help of doctors around the world who conduct them on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. But of course, clinical trials wouldn’t be possible without the help of volunteers. “Clinical trials involve healthy volunteers and they’re so important because this is how doctors and scientists learn more about health conditions and make healthcare better for the future,” says Dr. Soung.

But what are the risks of clinical trials? With any new potential treatment, there are going to be risks and benefits, Judy notes. However, an important step in any clinical trial is walking through those potential risks with patients, ensuring they have all they need to make a well-informed decision on if they’d like to participate. Doctors also have protections in place so that in the event something does happen, there’s a plan in place. “There’s a lot of different oversight and safeguards that are put in place,” says Judy.

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For example, every clinical trial is reviewed by a regulator, typically the FDA, or an independent board of people, whether they be doctors or lay people, to review the experiment and decide what is in the best interest of the patient or participant. One of the common deterrents of participating in a clinical trial is the idea that you may potentially receive a placebo, meaning that you wouldn’t receive care. But that’s not true, according to Dr. Soung. “A lot of patients in clinical trials discover that they learn a lot more about their own health condition, and they a lot more care than they normally would because the doctors and research staff spend a lot more time with the patient,” says Dr. Soung.

Watch the rest of the Inclusivity & Innovation in Healthcare panel here or the entirety of BlogHer Health here.

This article was created by SheKnows for Pfizer. 

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