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When a medical breatkthrough is in it's early stages there is no shortage of volunteers,

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Swede Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 09:35 AM
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When a medical breatkthrough is in it's early stages there is no shortage of volunteers,
to try it. Like the diabetes cure in the news. Is there a reason they don't use these volunteers?
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MonkeyFunk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 09:39 AM
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1. In general
there are two types of tests that need to be done on a potential new treatment. First is safety - they use animal trials at first to make sure there's nothing really obviously deadly about it. Then, often, a very small trial of humans, carefully conducted and supervised. Once it's determined the treatment is reasonably safe, then they usually open it up to a march larger pool of volunteers for efficacy trials.

These are double-blind controlled studies with some percentage receiving the treatment, and the rest a placebo. That's how they can determine if the treatment actually works.

It can take a long time, but it's necessary. It would violate medical ethics to just start giving it to large groups of people, even if they ARE volunteers.
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Schema Thing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 10:07 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Can't they just get some new ethics?
that's what I do.

:7
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MannyGoldstein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 10:57 AM
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3. Because Most Would-Be Breakthroughs Turn Out To Be Dangerous And/Or Ineffective
The breast cancer rate dropped about 15% last year. That's an enormous drop.

What happened?

Best guess is that a lot of menopausal women stopped taking replacement hormones, which dropped the cancer rate.

A number of years ago it was observed that pre-menopausal women have a low rate of heart disease compared to men, but the rates start to even out after menopause. Researchers figured that the difference must be due to the drop in female hormones after menopause - so docs started prescribing hormones to millions of post-menopausal women.

When they got around to studying whether this guess was correct or not, they found out that the hormones actually slightly INCREASED the risk of heart disease - and strongly INCREASED the risk of cancer.

A lot of women died because of a good guess that was acted upon before it was tested. Ooops.

This is pretty typical. Good guesses regarding healthcare, even by the smartest people, are usually wrong. Things that work in small trials often don't work in large trials. What works in mice usually doesn't work in people.
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