Clinical Trials – What You Need to Know

Organization: Author:
Mel Marks, MD, executive vice president, MemorialCare Research

You’ve just been diagnosed with a medical condition. You’ve probably been told about your treatment options, but have you asked about clinical trials?  

What is a clinical trial?

Clinical trials are intended to bring new discoveries, predominantly new treatments, to patients who may need access before they are available through normal channels – before the government has completed all of its trials, tests and approval processes. Many of those processes can take years, and many patients need these new discoveries today.

Who conducts these clinical trials?

Clinical trials are conducted in a variety of sites depending on the type of condition.  Long Beach Medical Center has a wide scope of services, so its health professionals provide clinical trials to patients of all ages and in a wide geographic network.

Who can participate in a clinical trial at Long Beach Medical Center?

The population served by Long Beach Medical Center is large, diverse and extends over two counties – Orange County and South LA County. Most research patients come from within that geography. However, anyone in the public can participate in these trials if they have the specific condition and eligibility criteria.

Research at Long Beach Medical Center is open to individuals who may have common or complex and rare conditions. With the common conditions, there are usually several patients right in the immediate vicinity. But with the rare conditions, research patients come from a far distance.

How many clinical trials does Long Beach Medical Center offer, and what are some of the topics of those trials?

Since Long Beach Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach share a medical campus, they cover all age groups from birth through senior care and can provide new discoveries to patients with a large number of conditions. The centers of excellence at Long Beach Medical Center and Miller Children’s focus on delivering these innovations quickly and early to patients. Long Beach Medical Center has a large number of clinical trials available to cancer patients through the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center. The MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Medical Center offers clinical trials to treat, diagnose and sometimes sustain good quality of life in patients with heart disease.

Is there any cost associated with clinical trials for the patient?

All clinical trials are free to each patient. In addition, Long Beach Medical Center often offers transportation, work loss and other expenses associated with participation.

What are the benefits of some of these trials to future patients?

The major benefit is that it allows those suffering, particularly from chronic disorders, to seek immediate and early access to new discoveries. The rate of discoveries now, particularly for drugs and devices, is so rapid that today’s patients can benefit from those discoveries much sooner than the long process of getting them through a traditional arrangement. Patients wouldn’t have this access at most places, but the MemorialCare Health System is a special place where patients in Long Beach, and throughout the system, can access these clinical trials.

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