There is a distinct difference in today’s society between medication access and medication advancement, especially for those impacted by the change in insurance standards. Medical research continues to lead to better medications, but limited access to these medications prevents many from potentially benefiting. When speaking to seniors, young adults, and older children, many are confused about how to access medications, especially with the frequent changes in healthcare regulations, having to schedule appointments months in advance, and understanding the guidelines of their own personnel healthcare coverage. In the case of mental health, some people do not realize that this coverage is not included in their existing medical policy, while others must pay out of pocket costs for medications because their deductible has not been met. This extra cost can leave a lot of people financially strapped, discouraged, and left in the shadows.
To avoid such problems, it is recommended that people educate themselves on viable alternatives to access medication and prescribing providers. One of these alternatives is to participate in clinical research trials. This may be viewed as an “out of the box” method to access medications for many people. The term “research” may be intimidating to some, which is why people should familiarize themselves with the process ahead of time. For example, there are different phases of research, also known as clinical trials, that all FDA approved medications must undergo before becoming available to the general population. Each clinical trial is led by a board certified physician, and staff who must abide by national guidelines. Prior to the study, there is an informed consent process, during which the physician and study coordinators go through the purpose of the study, potential benefits and risks. For example, one study may be comparing two different medications, while another is evaluating medication dose effectiveness.
There are several benefits to participating in clinical research trials. During the initial visit, a potential participant is seen by a board-certified physician or psychologist who will ask questions about medical and mental health history. If the potential participant matches the study requirements, and agrees to participate, he or she will be paid for their time once enrolled. Most clinical trials last anywhere from a couple of days to several months, during which the participant is closely followed for medication effectiveness and safety, as well as to address any of the participant’s questions along the way. Generally, the participant is financially compensated for his or her participation for the duration of the study. Participating in a clinical trial is also beneficial to society in general, given that each person involved in a clinical trial becomes part of the quest for medical advancement.
Clinical trials exist in every medical specialty, and the age range varies from early childhood to senior citizens. Given the existing obstacles in today’s society with respect to medication access, a person needs to remain informed about alternative accesses to medication.
Kate E Glywasky, Psy.D., ABPP
Board Certified Neuropsychologist,
Licensed Clinical Psychologist