What are clinical trials?

An infographic designed to help inform patients on the basics of clinical trials.

20 , 000

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Medicines,  €    90 6 , 700 Medical devices,    ‚  Vaccines,   

In a clinical trial, doctors and other staff give treatments to volunteers based on a specific plan. Experts review this plan to make sure volunteers are safe. volunteers

Researchers must give volunteers complete information about the clinical trial before they agree to take part. This is called informed consent. Volunteers can leave the trial at any time.

2015 to 2019 292,766 102,486 of those volunteers were in the U.S.

volunteers participated in clinical trials worldwide for new possible drugs between

Clinical trials take place all over the nation and are sponsored by many types of organizations, such as the government, hospitals, drug companies, and research centers.

Phases allow careful testing of new possible treatments. Each phase answers different and important questions.

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3   

Phase 4   


of volunteers 1000s

100s of volunteers

10s of volunteers

Countless volunteers

FDA Approval

 Is it safe for people? How much of the treatment is needed?

 Does it work better than the current treatment? Are there new safety concerns?

 Does it work for all types of people? Are there new safety concerns?

How well does it work? Are there new safety concerns?

www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/ Sources: https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/fda-basics/fact-sheet-fda-glance www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/vaccines/vaccines-licensed-use-united-states FDA. 2015-2019 Drug Trials Snapshots Summary Report: Five-year Summary and Analysis of Clinical Trial Participation and Demographics. November 2020. https://www.fda.gov/media/143592/download?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery


Interested in volunteering for a clinical trial? Visit: www.melanoma.org/clinical-trials

Updated March 2023

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