As early as next year more elderly patients may begin participating in significantly more clinical research trials. This is good news for elderly patients because it means that doctors will gain access to important information needed to be able to better treat their illnesses.
Clinical trials for new medications and treatments are constantly being done around the world to help doctors learn important information about how medications affect their patients. Clinical trials help doctors learn more about drug interactions, long-term usage implications, and how to better treat diseases and illnesses. In the past, often only adults were able to participate in clinical trials and usually, these trials did not allow participation from individuals who had a dual diagnosis or took various medications together. According to a recent article in New York Times, entitled, "The Clinical Trial is Open. The Elderly Need Not Apply
," this presented a problem for the elderly because it created inaccuracies in their care due to doctors using data that was relevant to a different group.
Part of the reason for this was that clinical research was not allowed to be done on particular age groups like the elderly and children. The reasoning for leaving these groups out of clinical trials made a bit of sense, as doctors and researchers felt that doing clinical trials on these groups was not ethical and often times, this research was simply not allowed. Recently there has been a shift in thinking regarding clinical trials. People now believe that it is worse to provide medical treatment to groups such as children and elderly with inaccurate data and information which could lead to problems with their treatment.
Elderly patients often take a variety of medications and suffer from multiple diagnoses. This creates a problem for them if their providers are using data collected from clinical trials on younger adults who do not suffer from multiple illnesses or who are only taking one medication. Traditionally, the need to control variables in clinical trials creates the necessity for patients to share similarities such as age, diagnosis, and medications. Unfortunately for the elderly, these results do little to tell doctors how to treat an older person who is receiving various treatments due to decline and old age.
Starting in January of 2019, clinical trials will have to be inclusive for all ages, in an effort to provide more accurate results to medical providers. This means that doctors treating the elderly will have significantly more information about how to properly treat the aging and handle medication management.