By Andrew Keegan, MD –
In life, we are often confronted with choices. Some may be enjoyable, like choosing where to go on vacation or planning for an exciting event; others may lead to sleepless nights because they have much greater consequences, such as making a career change or buying a new home.
Over the last 10 years as a neurologist, it has been my role to support my patients as they make important choices in their medical treatment. And since there are pros and cons to every option, there often is no right or wrong answer to the treatment path they pursue. While the scientific details behind these choices allow some patients to make the decision on their own, they often times defer to their physician to make the choice for them.
If you are struggling to make a decision about the medical treatment path you’d like to pursue, I’d suggest that you consider participating in a clinical trial. While new to the market, these treatments have been developed by leading medical researchers who are working each day to determine the best methods for treating and curing disease.
During my tenure as a medical professional, I’ve found that the two diseases that exemplify opposite ends of the spectrum regarding the scope of treatment options are Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s Disease. Treatment for MS, a central nervous system disease, has experienced tremendous expansion over the last decade. When I began treating patients, there were only four injectable medications for MS, and explaining the differences among those medications led to some patient confusion. Today, three new pills and an injection option have been added to the mix.
While these advancements are celebrated by patients and medical professionals alike, they also make the patient’s treatment decision far more complex – particularly when issues with treatment cost and insurance co-pays are factored in.
On the other hand, I have been giving patients and caregivers about the same four AD treatment options over the last decade – the only difference being that one of the pills is now available as a patch. This makes the conversation difficult when patients ask whether there are any advanced medical options and I have to admit that there are not; but it also allows me to ask them whether they’re interested in pursuing new alternative treatment options such as clinical trials.
Clinical trials are necessary before medications can receive approval by the Food and Drug Administration. There are several advantages to this practice; including that the patient’s medications, evaluations and office visits are often paid for by the sponsor. Patients are also compensated for time and travel. The disadvantages to pursuing this treatment process are that side effects could be unknown since the medications are still being tested, but it is important to note that patient safety is paramount throughout the clinical process; patients overwhelmingly find that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
At Roskamp Institute we offer Clinical Trials for MS and AD, if you or a loved one would like to learn more about the open trials and if they are right for you, please feel free to call one of our coordinators and they will get you all the information you need. Help the medical community develop these new treatments, please consider joining a clinical trial.
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