Deciding to get involved
Getting over my fear of needles
Each and every person in a clinical trial plays a powerful role. But, the decision to join isn't always an easy one. Read about why Jeff La Marca overcame his fear of needles to become a two-time vaccine clinical trial participant.
When Jeff La Marca first saw the call for clinical trial volunteers on the internet, he asked himself, “Could I do it?”
Frequently asked questions
What is drug or vaccine development?
Drug or vaccine development is the journey from an idea for a potential medicine or vaccine all the way through to bringing that new medicine or vaccine to patients who need it. The development lifecycle includes laboratory research and a series of clinical trials in people. Along the way, important information is collected about the potential medicine or vaccine and how it affects clinical trial participants. If that information shows the potential medicine or vaccine is safe and effective, clinical trial sponsors provide the information to regulatory authorities, such as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which decide whether to approve the medicine’s or vaccine’s use by patients.
What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials (or research studies) are a type of medical research in which people volunteer to take part. Clinical trials commonly study how potential medicines and other medical treatments affect the participants.
All medicines and vaccines that become available today for use in patients are first tested in clinical trials involving hundreds to thousands of people.
What happens in a clinical trial?
What happens in a clinical trial depends on the ‘protocol.’ A protocol is a detailed plan that explains the purpose of the clinical trial and how it will be run. If you consider joining a clinical trial, these details will be explained to you as part of the informed consent process. They include:
- the length of the clinical trial
- the study medicines, procedures, and tests in the clinical trial
- the schedule of study activities
- information about who can participate
- how side effects will be tracked, managed, and reported
- the rules that must be followed
A clinical trial may also have aspects such as randomization, placebo, or blinding.
Who will oversee my care in a clinical trial? Can I continue to see my regular medical doctor?
As part of a clinical trial, your study-related medical care is provided by the study team at the location where you’re participating. This includes the principal investigator (or study doctor) — the healthcare professional who conducts and takes responsibility for the trial at that location — as well as other clinical study team members.
During your clinical trial, you may also continue to see your regular medical doctors for any care that is not related to the study. It is important for you to tell your study team about other conditions you might have, and to let them know which other doctors are caring for you. This helps the study team coordinate your overall care.
If you participate, the clinical trial will provide study-related medical care, and your regular medical doctors will address the other aspects of your health. Your regular medical doctors can also work with the study team to understand the details of the study and any impact it may have on your regular medical care.
Are clinical trials safe?
All clinical trials have possible risks. The known and unknown risks of participating in a specific study will be explained to you during the informed consent process that happens before you decide whether to participate.
Clinical researchers must follow guidelines and regulatory requirements to help protect the rights, safety, and well-being of clinical trial participants. These include Good Clinical Practice (GCP). GCP is an international ethical and scientific quality standard for designing and conducting clinical trials.
There are also many entities that provide oversight of clinical trials. These include the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, institutional review boards and independent ethics committees, and data safety and monitoring boards.
Who can join a clinical trial?
We encourage everybody to consider joining clinical trials. There are many types of clinical trials that study different aspects of health in people with a variety of backgrounds and conditions. Each clinical trial has its own criteria for who may participate. These are called eligibility criteria.
Eligibility criteria include things like your age, sex, overall health, type of condition, and your medical treatment history. As part of the steps to join a clinical trial, the study doctor will confirm whether you meet all eligibility criteria and are able to participate.
Is there any cost to participate in a clinical trial?
Pfizer generally covers the cost of the study medicines and procedures that are part of our clinical trials.
Pfizer is also committed to reimbursing participants for reasonable clinical trial-related expenses such as transportation, parking, and meals.
Because each study is different, we encourage you to ask the study team any questions you have. You can also refer to the informed consent document for the details about any costs for study participants and study-related reimbursement.
Will I be compensated for participating, beyond reimbursement for expenses?
The answer to this depends on the specific clinical trial. Pfizer offers reasonable compensation for the time and effort of healthy volunteers who participate in our clinical trials. (Healthy volunteers are people who do not have the condition being studied.) Pfizer may also provide reasonable compensation to other participants when the health benefits from participating are remote, or when there are no potential health benefits from participating.
In certain studies, reasonable compensation may be provided to parents, guardians, or caregivers.
You can refer to the informed consent document for the details about compensation for participation in a specific study.
Who can I contact regarding Pfizer clinical trials?
We list all of our clinical trials that are recruiting participants or plan to recruit shortly in our Find a Trial search engine. We welcome you to explore our clinical trials and the information provided about each study. There is contact information available on each study’s webpage.
What if I can’t find a clinical trial that’s right for me on this website?
Additional support & resources
Interested in a clinical trial for a loved one?