In DepthMedical Research

Clinical trials get practical

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Science  24 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6233, pp. 382
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6233.382

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Clinical trials are in for an overhaul, if a group of experts has its way. Surprisingly, although billions of dollars are spent each year to test new drugs, the information these trials yield is often of little help to doctors trying to treat the patients right in front of them. That's because trials often limit who can enroll—for instance, if a person has diabetes or high blood pressure, she might be excluded from a test of a new medicine. But doctors treat patients taking multiple drugs, and with multiple conditions, all the time. At a recent meeting, doctors, clinical trial experts, and statisticians made the case for a new type of experiment: pragmatic clinical trials, which focus less on basic biology and more on what doctors need to make decisions.

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