Medical Trials Information

If the treatment you are having for fibromyalgia isn't effective in relieving your symptoms you might want to consider volunteering for a medical trial.

What Are Medical Trials?

As part of the approval process with the FDA and similar organizations like the CE in Europe, pharmaceutical companies and medical researchers need to try out treatments and drugs on actual people. To do this they recruit volunteers to test the treatment or procedure in a series of medical trials. In some cases the volunteers are healthy which helps the researchers find out if there are any inherent problems with the drug or treatment. In other cases they recruit people with the disease or disorder to see how effective their new treatment is.

Double Blind Trials

Very often researchers run double blind trials where neither the person receiving the treatment or the person giving the treatment know whether the volunteer is receiving the actual treatment or a placebo (usually a sugar pill) or 'sham treatment'. Any new treatment has to be more effective than the 'placebo effect' (30 % of people respond to a placebo or sham treatment) in order to receive FDA approval. The best way to do this is to run these double blind trials. So if you volunteer for a double-blind trial, you may not receive any personal benefit if you are in the 'control group' which doesn't receive treatment. However your participation is still essential to see how effective the treatment is overall.

Clinical Trials

Where the treatment has proved effective in some situations, researchers often run a variety of clinical trials to see how effective different doses and treatment frequency are. There are observational trials where they just observe the condition to obtain information but don't offer treatment, straight treatment trials where they test the treatment doses etc, or double blind trials, depending which stage the research has reached.


All trials have some sort of risk, even if it only be that it might not have any benefit to you personally. However many medications or treatments have side effects, and researchers don't always know what these are in advance, which is one of the reasons they are running the trial. Before agreeing to take part in a trial you should make sure that you completely understand all the risks involved, so far as the researchers know. It is also very important to make sure you report any positive or negative effects of the drug or treatment as soon as possible. Remember you are in effect a 'human guinea pig'.


One of the benefits of taking part in a trial for a new drug or treatment is that you get to try something before it comes out on the market, which may be very effective. Also very often either the treatment is free, or in certain cases you may be even paid for your participation in the trial.

How Do I Volunteer?

In the first instance speak to your fibromyalgia specialist, family doctor or contact the National Fibromyalgia Association to find out if there are any treatment trials for fibromyalgia in your area. And then see if you are eligible for the trial. Researchers have certain research requirements they have to meet so if you are refused don't take it personally.

There are over 80 research studies throughout the world currently recruiting volunteers for fibromyalgia trials. Just some examples are CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) in Indiana, TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) in South Carolina and at Michigan University research into the benefit of acupuncture.

Check out the rest of our website for more help and advice about fibromyalgia.

Login to comment

Post a comment