Patients in need of urgent care (like in cancer care) want the new drugs to come out now. Doctors want to know whether the new protocol their being pressed to use actually works better than the old one. Parents want to know about long-term effects before they vaccinate their children with something new to market. These are part of the frustrations of the field of medicine -- which is always changing.
It's also a field with a lot of missteps -- the experiments of the past sometimes had horrible effects that ruined or took people's lives. The tragedies of William Halstead who, in the nineteenth century, disfigured women with radical mastectomies, or the forced Tuskeegee University syphilis experiments. These history lessons offer a caution for us.
The tension between these two imperatives appears to be a paradox: to bring lifesaving medical technology quickly to people who need it urgently, and to carefully evaluate these advances before offering them to large numbers of people.
This is why clinical trials are so important for medicine to move forward, safely and quickly. A recent SubjectWell poll found that 96 percent of people never participated in a clinical trial, and 50 percent had never even heard of one. The enhanced consent, participation rules and safeguards on clinical trials make it a better regulated field than ever before. Consider participating in research - so that we can do our best to have safer and faster results.