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A unit dedicated to the development, organization and professionalization of clinical trials has been operational since September 2008. This clinical research unit (CRU) is the result of a collaboration between the CHU Brugmann and the QFCUH.

This CRU is a member of the European Forum for Good Clinical Practice.

Participating in a clinical trial or being a "guinea pig"?

A clinical trial in humans at any age of life is one of the essential steps. Thanks to this methodology, medicine has seen many of today's therapeutic advances.

In the collective imagination, the clinical trial has a bad reputation for various reasons: novelty, trial by trial, unknown, uncertainty, experimentation, placebo, poorly known side effects... The patient (or the healthy volunteer) has the feeling that he or she is being used as a guinea pig.

Participer à un essai cliniqueParticipating in a clinical trial means taking an active role in one's health, being altruistic. The clinical trial represents a chance to benefit from an innovative treatment when there is no treatment or when existing treatments are ineffective or poorly tolerated. Human experimentation is therefore irreplaceable to establish the real value of a treatment. This form of medicine, in search of certainties, is the source of "evidence-based medicine".
Indeed, it is rare that we know perfectly the natural evolution of a disease. It is often impossible, on the basis of a few clinical facts, to determine whether the observed result comes from the effect of the treatment itself, a spontaneous cure or a placebo effect. For this reason, most clinical trials are called "controlled", i.e. the treatment under trial is compared either to no treatment or to another known treatment. This validation on humans takes place within a very strict legal framework.

Today, participation in a clinical trial is voluntary; the patient is always free to withdraw from the trial at any time with the guarantee of receiving the treatment best suited to his or her disease.
Patients who agree to participate in a trial are particularly well monitored and accompanied. The number of visits and the time spent are generally higher than for standard treatment, which is sometimes perceived as cumbersome but is compensated for by the psychological support received.

Patients from all backgrounds are very often reluctant to participate in clinical trials even though they are not afraid to ingest substances that have not been controlled (such as Chinese herbs). Patients' subjectivity remains important. But after a first participation, the patient's perception is quite different. Initial skepticism gives way to recognition and enthusiasm.
Our public institutions are there primarily to care for patients, not to use them as guinea pigs. This is a word to be driven out of our vocabulary.

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