When scientists find empirical reasons to believe that a new drug, treatment or medical device has the potential to cure or improve a condition or disease, they will set out to research it and test it out. This research process takes several years and has many phases to ensure that once a medical product is released, it is scientifically reasonable to assume that it’s benefits greatly outweigh the risks.
A big part of the research process is the clinical trial. Every clinical trial is different; some trials might involve a group of volunteers receiving a new medication, treatment or device in order to assess its effectiveness, potential side effects, interactions, and reactions. Other clinical trials are conducted to investigate the effects of lifestyle or behavior modification; on these studies the participants might not receive any treatment at all, instead they will be prescribed a new diet or lifestyle regime and researchers will observe the changes that occur.
All clinical trials are completely voluntary, meaning that any individual who is invited to participate has a right to decline or withdraw their consent at any point during the study. All research studies that involve human participants are very closely monitored by internal and external regulatory agencies such as the FDA and the Interval Review Board (IRB) to make sure the trials are being conducted in a safe and ethical manner.