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Clinical Trials

3. Classification

Clinical trials vary depending on who initiates the trial:

  • Clinicians;
  • Pharmaceutical or other health care companies;
  • Government bodies; or
  • Health providers, who may all initiate trials depending on their interest.

Typically pharmaceutical companies conduct trials involving new drugs or established drugs in disease areas where their drug may gain a new license.

Device manufacturers use trials to prove the safety and efficacy of their new device. Clinical trials initiated by clinical investigators may ask questions of when or how best to administer a specific therapy or when to withdraw a therapy and they may use established or older drugs with little commercial value in new disease areas.

Government bodies or health care providers may trial vaccines or best ways of organizing care delivery (e. g., availability of contraception methods or uptake of the measles vaccine).

Appropriate uses of clinical trials

A clinical trial is appropriate to evaluate which is the most cost effective drug choice. Clinical trials are also appropriate for evaluating whether a new device achieves a certain goal as effectively and safely as standard devices.

However, investigating the causes of Parkinson's disease, for example, is better suited by a cohort study or case-control study because cohort studies are able to observe groups to determine frequency of new incidence of disease and case-control studies observe patients with diseases to better understand disease characteristics.

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