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Participating in a clinical trial in Canada

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If you take any daily medications, or you’ve taken any medications, they’re the result of clinical trials.

The pandemic has resulted in most of us hearing more about clinical trials than ever before. Did you know there are always clinical trials going on in Canada? They are a critical step in getting drugs approved in Canada and a lot has to happen before they come to market.

There are four phases before Health Canada will give the nod to a pharmaceutical company. Phase one is all about understanding side effects and the safety of the drug. In this phase, there are a small number of participants, around 20-80. Phase two can involve up to 300 people and is all about understanding the impacts on different populations. In phase three, the trial looks at even larger groups, between 1,000 to 3,000 and also determines how the drug works compared to a placebo. If the treatment has proven itself, phase four studies long-term effects over a period of time. All told, these trials can take up to a decade!

So why were COVID-19 vaccines approved so fast? It was an unusual global collaboration between scientists, manufacturers, politicians and bureaucracies. The vaccines were mostly given emergency approvals and are now looking at final approvals. It was an unprecedented global effort that was based on sound science.

But many people don’t realize they can participate in a clinical trial to help medications get to people in need. Each one will have different criteria based on the condition to be treated. Some may be for women while others just for men, some require you to be suffering from the disease in question or have a certain condition. Each trial details what the scientists are looking for in participants.

In Canada, about 900 clinical trials a year are approved by Health Canada for various medications. To find out about them, you can ask your personal doctor or a specialist if you’re seeing one. You can also check with local universities that have medical programs. In 2020, over 6,000 active trials took place and they’re on the increase. For most, they are volunteer trials, but some are paid. Not enough to make a solid income, but that’s not really the point. So if you’re interested in participating in a trial, here’s some Canadian resources to check out.

List of Clinical Trials in Canada

Health Canada Clinical Trials Database here.

Clinical Trials in Ontario here.

Canadian Cancer Trials here.

Centre Watch has a list of Canadian trials here.

Nova Scotia Health Authority has a list here.

Alberta has their list here.

The British Columbia Academic Health service has a list here.

You can find Quebec clinical trials here.

Some for New Brunswick are listed here.

Trials vary in length of time and you may have to go through some screening to qualify as well. But the more who participate the better new medications can come to market.

Discover More: Check out this cool article on how your immune system works.


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