Phase 4 trials are conducted after the treatment has been approved by the regulatory authority. The goal of Phase 4 trials is to answer specific questions, such as cost effectiveness. You can get the same treatment without being part of a clinical trial but by enrolling in a Phase 4 trial, you help researchers find more information and as a result, your participation also helps future patients.
As you can see, as a treatment progresses through the different phases, the phase number gives you an indication of how many people have previously been tested. By enrolling in a phase 3 trial, you already know that this treatment has been given to several hundred people and seems to be having an effect, whereas if you joined a phase 1 trial you could be one of the first to try the treatment.
As the phases progress, the length of the trial increases. Phase 1 trials are usually the shortest and only pick up short term effects, whereas as Phase 3 trials might last years and can provide long term data.
Knowing this information can help you make decisions based on the risk:benefit ratio and your particular situation.
In the next few blog posts we’ll look more at the risk:benefit ratio, as well as the other things you should consider, and how to find clinical trials.