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Why Should Patients Consider Participating in a Clinical Trial?

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Published on October 9, 2014

Experts are urging lymphoma patients today to consider participating in a clinical trial. With big changes happening and more coming, they feel it may give patients access to "tomorrow's medicines today." Watch now to learn from experts Dr. John Gribben, Dr. Jeremy Abramson and Dr. Wyndham Wilson.

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Transcript | Why Should Patients Consider Participating in a Clinical Trial?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

Hello and welcome to Patient Power. I’m Andrew Schorr. I was in a clinical trial in 1996 for my chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and it truly gave me tomorrow’s medicine today. It gave me a drug combination, including rituximab (Rituxan) 10 years before it was approved by the FDA.

And I think it really has given me a very long remission because of that. What about now? The importance of clinical trials. Could it give you tomorrow’s medicine today? Well let’s hear where we are with that from our roundtable experts recorded at the 12th Annual International Workshop on Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Dr. Gribben:

So huge excitement with these new drugs coming along, of course, many of them getting approval very rapidly because of the speed with which we were able to, to complete those clinical trials. The importance to you of, of, of your patients taking part in clinical trials?

 

Dr. Abramson:

Well, there is nothing more important than patients taking part in the clinical trials. And that’s true for those patients individually. It’s true for the patients who follow in their footsteps in the sense that we all stand on the shoulders of those that follow before us.

But clinical trials are the engine of medical progress. And all of the advances that we’re talking about today are because these very exciting drugs have been tested in thoughtful, well-validated clinical trials that moved the field forward.

For patients, they’re often a way to get something new, something exciting, something biologically targeted that wouldn’t be available yet as a standard of care and might ultimately. It’s a chance to get drugs that are already available but in exciting new combinations with a biological rationale to do better.

It’s a chance to potentially get safer therapies and better-targeted therapies. And, occasionally, those clinical trials don’t pan out. Not every clinical trial is a homerun. But I think it’s critically important for patients to talk to their doctors about clinical trials, to seek out clinical trials.

Go to clinicaltrials.gov and search for, for your disease, and your area, and your center. Communicate with those centers, and say, is there a trial that’s right for me? Because it’s a great opportunity for patients, and it’s something that really does help to contribute to driving the entire field forward for everybody.

Dr. Gribben:

On that .gov point; so Wyndham, you’re sitting at the National Institutes of Health, and the National Cancer Institute, there is some concern in some of these clinical recently about this question of equipoise between agents that looked very effective in early phase trials versus perhaps a not-equivalent arm.

So what, what’s your advice to a patient in terms of should they take part in such, such trials?

Dr. Wilson:

You know, I think that we know historically that there were trials done that were not ethical, not necessarily in cancer, but in other areas, where people would be exposed to harmful substances, etc., etc. I think it’s important for patients to recognize that the regulatory environment around what we bring into clinical trial is very, very strict.

And if you, in fact, have a randomized study, it is usually something that there is very good evidence that the new arm may be superior, but probably not, but almost certainly not worse than the standard therapy. So the worst you can do is get the standard therapy.

The best you can do is possibly get the other arm that’s no better than, but possibly it could be better. In terms of Phase II trials with some of these newer agents, they’re usually set up such that they’re taking patients who would still have the opportunity to get other drugs later on, etc.

So the bottom line is I think in general they’re very carefully conceived so that, that the net effect is either neutral, that is the patients are, are as good as though they would get standard therapy. And in many cases, it turns out they end up having a much better outcome, because they have access to some of these newer agents.

So as Jeremy said, and I think we all agree, clinical trials really, I believe are safe, and I believe they’re the way for our, our, our field to move forward.

Dr. Gribben:

So I think what you’re picking up from all of us here is that we’re very excited both by what we heard at the International Workshop on Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma over the last few days but also where the field is in terms of the new agents.

Our understanding of the basic pathophysiology of the disease, understanding the, the targets that need to be hit when we’re looking to, to treat our patients.

You’re hearing that everybody’s excited at the prospect that we’ve got new agents that are going to help towards our ultimate goal, which is the cure for, for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which I know that, that’s what all of our patients want.

And I think we’re all looking forward to hearing the progress at the next meetings, and looking forward to the 13th International Workshop on Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma next year.

Andrew Schorr:

Special thanks to doctors Gribben, Rubenstein, Wilson and Abramson for participating in our roundtable discussion. And, of course, we have other interviews from the International Workshop on Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and a lot more on lymphoma in our library and going forward with other conferences and other events throughout the year.

So be sure to be signed up for alerts on our website. It’s so important that you get educated and get in control of your journey with your cancer. All the research shows that engaged, knowledgeable patients do better so why not you? I’m Andrew Schorr. Thanks for watching. Remember, knowledge can be the best medicine of all.

Dr. Abramson:

Well, there is nothing more important than patients taking part in the clinical trials. And that’s true for those patients individually. It’s true for the patients who follow in their footsteps in the sense that we all stand on the shoulders of those that follow before us.

But clinical trials are the engine of medical progress. And all of the advances that we’re talking about today are because these very exciting drugs have been tested in thoughtful, well-validated clinical trials that moved the field forward.

For patients, they’re often a way to get something new, something exciting, something biologically targeted that wouldn’t be available yet as a standard of care and might ultimately. It’s a chance to get drugs that are already available but in exciting new combinations with a biological rationale to do better.

It’s a chance to potentially get safer therapies and better-targeted therapies. And, occasionally, those clinical trials don’t pan out. Not every clinical trial is a homerun. But I think it’s critically important for patients to talk to their doctors about clinical trials, to seek out clinical trials.

Go to clinicaltrials.gov and search for, for your disease, and your area, and your center. Communicate with those centers, and say, is there a trial that’s right for me? Because it’s a great opportunity for patients, and it’s something that really does help to contribute to driving the entire field forward for everybody.

Dr. Gribben:

On that .gov point; so Wyndham, you’re sitting at the National Institutes of Health, and the National Cancer Institute, there is some concern in some of these clinical recently about this question of equipoise between agents that looked very effective in early phase trials versus perhaps a not-equivalent arm.

So what, what’s your advice to a patient in terms of should they take part in such, such trials?

Dr. Wilson:

You know, I think that we know historically that there were trials done that were not ethical, not necessarily in cancer, but in other areas, where people would be exposed to harmful substances, etc., etc. I think it’s important for patients to recognize that the regulatory environment around what we bring into clinical trial is very, very strict.

And if you, in fact, have a randomized study, it is usually something that there is very good evidence that the new arm may be superior, but probably not, but almost certainly not worse than the standard therapy. So the worst you can do is get the standard therapy.

The best you can do is possibly get the other arm that’s no better than, but possibly it could be better. In terms of Phase II trials with some of these newer agents, they’re usually set up such that they’re taking patients who would still have the opportunity to get other drugs later on, etc.

So the bottom line is I think in general they’re very carefully conceived so that, that the net effect is either neutral, that is the patients are, are as good as though they would get standard therapy. And in many cases, it turns out they end up having a much better outcome, because they have access to some of these newer agents.

So as Jeremy said, and I think we all agree, clinical trials really, I believe are safe, and I believe they’re the way for our, our, our field to move forward.

Dr. Gribben:

So I think what you’re picking up from all of us here is that we’re very excited both by what we heard at the International Workshop on Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma over the last few days but also where the field is in terms of the new agents.

Our understanding of the basic pathophysiology of the disease, understanding the, the targets that need to be hit when we’re looking to, to treat our patients.

You’re hearing that everybody’s excited at the prospect that we’ve got new agents that are going to help towards our ultimate goal, which is the cure for, for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which I know that, that’s what all of our patients want.

And I think we’re all looking forward to hearing the progress at the next meetings, and looking forward to the 13th International Workshop on Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma next year.

Andrew Schorr:

Special thanks to doctors Gribben, Rubenstein, Wilson and Abramson for participating in our roundtable discussion. And, of course, we have other interviews from the International Workshop on Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and a lot more on lymphoma in our library and going forward with other conferences and other events throughout the year.

So be sure to be signed up for alerts on our website. It’s so important that you get educated and get in control of your journey with your cancer. All the research shows that engaged, knowledgeable patients do better so why not you? I’m Andrew Schorr. Thanks for watching. Remember, knowledge can be the best medicine of all.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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