What is a veterinary clinical trial?
A veterinary clinical trial is a study conducted on veterinary patients and focused on evaluating the effects of new therapies, medical devices and diagnostic tests for eventual use in veterinary or human medicine. Clinical trials are specifically designed to benefit enrolled patients while at the same time advancing our scientific knowledge.
Where do you conduct your trials?
Unless otherwise specified, the clinical trials listed on the UC Davis Veterinary Center for Clinical Trials website are conducted in Davis, California. The one exception are some of the trials outlined under Genetics (as many of these only require samples to be shipped through the mail).
Are clinical trials voluntary?
Absolutely. Your pet will never be placed in a clinical trial without your knowledge or permission. Owners of all qualified patients involved in veterinary clinical trials must sign a consent form before the study begins.
Informed consent is your right as a veterinary clinical trial participant. The consent document outlines the purpose of the study, the exact treatments you will receive, possible side effects, and your right to withdraw at any time. Make sure you understand what costs are covered by the trial (e.g., treatment, medical care, travel, etc.). If you do not understand something, please ask your veterinarian to clarify.
Signing the informed consent form acknowledges that the trial was explained to you and that you understand the information presented in the document. You can, however, withdraw from a clinical trial at any time, even after signing the form.
What are the benefits of participating in a clinical trial?
Potential benefits to enrolling your pet into a clinical trial include:
- Access to a treatment that isn't available yet. This treatment may be more effective or have fewer side effects than the treatments that are currently prescribed.
- Regular and careful attention from some of the best veterinary clinicians. The team that conducts clinical trials usually includes top veterinarians and scientists, all of whom will be working with you.
- Treatment that may be lower cost. Some, but not all clinical trials may pay for part or all of your pets’ treatment, medical care, travel, and other expenses during the study. Make sure you know exactly what you'll have to pay for before you agree to enroll your pet in a clinical trial.
- Contributing to new medical knowledge that may save lives in the future. Many of the excellent diagnostic tests and therapies we routinely use today came about through past veterinary clinical trials [see Animal Roles in Medical Discoveries (PDF) for contribution examples]. NOTE: The PDF is large so it may take a couple of minutes to download.
- The feeling that you're taking a more active role in your pets’ veterinary care.
Are there risks involved with participating in a clinical trial?
Our clinicians take every precaution to minimize risk to your pet. All clinical trial protocols are reviewed by two separate review boards to ensure that the studies are well-designed, risks are mitigated and there is a reasonable likelihood of a similar or better outcome compared to current standards of veterinary care. Although every effort is made to control the risks, some may be unavoidable. Potential risks include:
- The new treatment may not work for for your pet, even if it benefits other patients in the clinical trial. It also may turn out that the new treatment isn't as effective as what's currently available.
- More severe side effects than current treatments.
- More frequent testing and veterinary visits. Because your pet will be closely monitored, additional visits and tests may be required more often than would occur if you were not participating in the trial.
Are there any financial costs to participating?
Cost varies depending on the specific clinical trial. Although some trials cover most or all of the cost, others can only partially cover the finances associated with those diagnostic tests and/or treatments required for the study. In other words, they are not likely to pay for all tests or treatments your pet is receiving just because you’re in the study.
There are many not-for-profit organizations that can provide financial aid if you want to participate in a trial but cannot commit to the financial obligations.
How can I find out if my pet qualifies for a study?
Each veterinary clinical trial has specific criteria that patients must meet to be included. For example, the study might only concentrate on a certain type or stage of a disease. Enrollment might also be dependent upon patient age, treatments already received, or present health condition. Information about these requirements can be found in the details of each study website.
What questions should I ask before participating in a veterinary clinical trial?
Choosing to be in a clinical trial is an important personal decision. Discuss the following questions with your veterinarian or technicians involved in the study to make an informed choice:
- What is the purpose of this clinical trial?
- How will my pet benefit?
- What are the potential risks involved?
- What are my responsibilities?
- What kinds of tests and procedures are involved?
- Do I have to change veterinarians to be in the trial, or can I stay with my own veterinarian?
- Can I learn the final result of the study? If so, how?
- Is there any cost to participating in the study or are all costs covered?
- What follow-up is involved once my pet's treatment ends?
If I want my pet to participate, what are my responsibilities?
- Read, understand the information presented, and sign the Owner Informed Consent document. If you have any questions about the study, please ask your veterinarian or study staff for clarification.
- Make sure you know exactly what you'll have to pay for before you agree to enroll your pet in a clinical trial.
- Complete the study procedures as outlined by your veterinarian.
- Maintain scheduled appointments, as visits are often scheduled to gather data at specific time points. Please reschedule any missed appointments at the next available opportunity.
Notify the study investigator or your veterinarian regarding any changes in the health of your animal or your willingness to participate in the study.