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Oklahoma State University
Center for Veterinary Health Sciences

Healthy Animals - Healthy People

Clinical Trials FAQ

What is a clinical trial?

  • A clinical trial is a research study that is conducted in a hospital setting rather than a laboratory.  These studies are designed to answer a specific question about health in a specific population of patients. 

What is the purpose of a clinical trial? 

  • The goal of a clinical trial is to evaluate a new treatment, medication, or diagnostic test in patients to determine the effectiveness of the treatment, medication or diagnostic test. 

What are the benefits of a clinical trial?

  • It is the goal the clinical trial to benefit the patient that is enrolled in the study.  The data accumulated from the study is used to help the overall patient population.
  • Many populations can benefit from the information gathered in a clinical trial.  There are many diseases that affect both humans and our veterinary patients.  The data that is accumulated in veterinary clinical trials can also further our knowledge of health and disease in humans.
  • Access to treatment or testing that isn’t available anywhere else.  Before a new treatment, medication or diagnostic test becomes available to the veterinary community as a whole, it is closely evaluated in a clinical trial.  For example:  A population of patients that have a specific type of cancer are being treated with a new medication.  This initial round of treatment with this drug informs us if the treatment is safe, effective, and potentially beneficial for the rest of the population with this specific disease.  Our goal in this case is to help slow or stop the growth of the cancer in the affected patients.  If this treatment is effective and patients do well with this therapy, we have had a major breakthrough in the treatment of this type of cancer.  However, if the treatment is not effective and the cancer progresses or the patients have unexpected side effects, we now know that this treatment does not work and should not be pursued in the future.  This information benefits the population as a whole and advances our understanding of the cancer and the medication that was evaluated.
  • Access to some of the best veterinary health team members.  This includes veterinarians that are experts in their fields, technicians with years of experiences, and dedicated and compassionate staff of client care representatives.  All of these individuals strive to ensure that your experience, and your pet’s experience, is positive from the time of enrollment to the time of completion. 

Is there any financial benefit to enrollment in a clinical trial?

  • Some studies provide medications or testing at no, or reduced cost, to the family.  Other studies may only pay for the specific test or treatment that is being investigated and the remaining cost of treatment will still be the responsibility of the family.  Specific information about what expenses are covered by the study can be found in the study description. 

What are the risks associated with a clinical trial?

  • The new treatment or test that is being evaluated may not always better than what is currently available.
  • Even if the treatment/test is better for the overall population, your pet may not have a response to the therapy.
  • The new treatment or test may have unexpected side effects. 
  • Treatment or testing of this type may not be available for the entire study of after the study is completed.  Even if your pet is experiencing no side effects and the treatment is very effective for the problem, the treatment could be withdrawn.  This could be due to a variety of reasons including:  the treatment is no longer available, the funding covering the cost of treatment is terminated once the study is complete, other patients had severe side effects and the study was terminated, the treatment was not effective for enough of the patients being evaluated and the study was terminated, among others.  In these instances, our research team will try to transition your pet to a more conventional treatment, if one exists. 

Are clinical trials humane?

  • Yes.  Our primary concern is to the overall comfort and well-being of our patients.  Before beginning any research project at Oklahoma State University, all of our research studies are reviewed by an outside committee.  This committee is composed of veterinarians who are experts in research, scientists from a variety of disciplines and a non-medical/non-scientist member of the community.  Their purpose is to ensure that all studies are conducted as humanely and safely as possible. 

How do I know if my pet will qualify for a current clinical trial?

  • All of our current clinical trials are listed on this website.  Information regarding criteria for enrollment is listed under each trial description.  If you have additional questions about if your pet will qualify, please contact the research team member listed in the trial description.

What are my responsibilities in a clinical trial?

  • Initially, please read and understand the purpose of the trial.  Any questions that you have will be addressed in person at the time of the initial consultation.  At this time you will also be asked to sign an informed consent document which will allow us to officially enroll your pet into the trial.  
  • Make sure you know what costs are covered by the study and which costs you will be responsible for at the time of the visit.  If you are unclear, please ask a research team member for clarification.
  • Complete the study and keep scheduled appointments.  Appointments are made at specific times so that data for the effectiveness of the study can be obtained.  Failure to keep these appointments could result in missing information and invalidate portions of the study.
  • Inform the research team of any concerning changes in pet at home.  When you enroll you pet in a clinical trial, you become one of the most important members of the team.  We rely on you to communicate any concerns or problems that develop during the course of the study. 

How do enroll my pet in a clinical trial?

  • Contact the research team member listed under in the trial description.