Clinical Drug Trial Lengths and Effectiveness

I’ve always been a skeptical of the clinical drug trials since so many medications have provided me with little or no long term benefit. Now I have a bit more than skepticism to go on.

I’ve been trying Seroquel since the beginning of June and keeping daily notes and mood chart scores. The results have thrown up a peculiar issue which does relate to drug trials.

If I were part of a clinical drug trial that lasted 3 weeks, Seroquel would have scored perfectly. Once I got over the week long bout of mostly sleeping, Seroquel worked to keep me productive and stable for the next two weeks. On a scale of 1-5, five being the best, Seroquel would have gotten a 5.

However, I’ve been on Seroquel for nearly 5 weeks. If I had to score Seroquel at the end of 5 weeks, the result would be drastically different from the score at the end of 3 weeks. As it currently stands, Seroquel doesn’t seem to be able to keep me from getting depressed. If I had to rate it now, it would get a rating of 1 1/2 or so.

So the length of a clinical drug trial matters. People like me, whose moods cycle rapidly, would score a drug to be more effective if we were in a short clinical drug trial than in a longer one.  I’m assuming that people whose moods don’t cycle rapidly would rate a drug more effective if they took part in a long clinical drug trial than in a short one.

If the trial was double blind and the people in the sample were completely randomised, this would theoretically help dampen the length effect. But not completely – if the number of rapid cyclers in the entire sample was higher than the number of slow cyclers, then the drug would be favoured in a short clinical trial and penalised in a long clinical trial. Vice versa, if the number of slow cyclers was higher than rapid cyclers in the entire sample, the drug would be favoured in a long clinical trial and penalised in a short clinical trial.

For people like myself who have to make decisions on which drugs to take, knowing the length of the clinical trials which supported a drug’s effectiveness matters.  This should be part of the information that is provided to us by psychiatrists when they are recommending drugs.

One thought on “Clinical Drug Trial Lengths and Effectiveness

  1. Something I’ve been thinking about recently.. in exercise science we know that everything works.. for 6 weeks. In medicine, why must the brain work differently? Can we really expect to have a single drug that always works for more than a short period of time?

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