What Is A Clinical Trial?

Working toward advancing British Columbians’ health and improving patient care

Clinical trials are research studies involving human volunteers, also known as research participants. During a clinical trial, a medication, treatment, or medical device is given to research participants, allowing researchers to learn about how well it works, its safety, and its side effects.

In Canada, clinical trials are conducted with oversight from Health Canada and a local research ethics board. Health Canada requires that a new drug, treatment, or medical device be tested in a large number of human volunteers before it can receive approval and be made available to patients.

The process of developing new medical therapies is often long and expensive and typically takes many years and millions of dollars before entering clinical trials.  It is quite an accomplishment when researchers get to the clinical trial stage, but there remains a long road ahead in getting the new drug, treatment, or medical device to market.

By participating in research, you may

  • help researchers find safer or better treatments or medications
  • help expand medical knowledge by providing your health information
  • help researchers to better understand what is known about a disease or treatment
  • help future generations by finding new ways to treat and prevent disease

Participation in research is voluntary — you have the right to decide if you want to take part. You may withdraw at anytime without providing a reason. Your information will be protected and kept confidential.