How do I know if a clinical trial for hidradenitis suppurativa is right for me?

Answer From Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.

Living with the painful symptoms and flare-ups of hidradenitis suppurativa can be frustrating. A number of treatments are available, but if you haven't been able to find relief, you might wonder if a clinical trial could be your answer.

Clinical trials can give you access to potential medications and procedures. But there are risks involved in trying new treatments. If you're considering a clinical trial for hidradenitis suppurativa, it can help to understand the types of trials available, where to find them, pros and cons, and questions to ask.

Types of clinical trials

Quite a few types of clinical trials are available. If you're looking to try something new, you might be interested in a trial that:

  • Tests new treatments — such as new drugs, surgical procedures and laser therapies — or new approaches, such as use of an existing drug to treat a different condition
  • Compares one treatment with another
  • Studies if lifestyle changes, such as a healthier diet, can make a difference in the course of a disease

Other trials may look for genes involved in a disease or follow the course of a disease to learn about how the disease progresses with time.

Finding clinical trials

Your doctor is a good place to start for learning about hidradenitis suppurativa clinical trials in your area. You can also find trials on government websites, such as the Food and Drug Administration's site or ClinicalTrials.gov. Patient organizations may also help you find trials.

Clinical trial pros and cons

When you're in a clinical trial, especially a phase 1 or 2 trial, the treatment isn't specifically designed to help ease symptoms. The main goal is to test if a drug is safe and if it works. The potential treatment may not pan out, or it may have side effects that you can't tolerate.

Some trials also include a group of people given a nonactive (placebo) treatment. Researchers compare the active treatment and placebo groups to see how well a treatment works. In such a trial, you could end up receiving a placebo, though you wouldn't be told until the end of the trial.

While there can be drawbacks, a clinical trial may give you the chance to try a new treatment. And even if the trial doesn't benefit you, it may help others in the future. Consider if that's a risk you're willing to take.

Questions to ask

Don't hesitate to ask the researchers questions so that you fully understand what's involved in the trial. Possible questions include:

  • What do I need to do for this study?
  • How long will the study last?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • Will this treatment help give me relief?
  • Can I continue my current treatments?
  • Who pays for study appointments and treatments?
  • If I have side effects related to the clinical trial, who pays for any additional treatment needed?

Talk to your doctor as part of the decision-making process. Your doctor can make sure you've considered all the pros and cons, and help coordinate your current care with any clinical trial treatments.

Jan. 04, 2019 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. Acne
  2. Acne mistakes
  3. Acne scars: What's the best treatment?
  4. Acne treatments: Medical procedures may help clear skin
  5. Adult acne: Can natural hormone treatments help?
  6. Antidepressant withdrawal: Is there such a thing?
  7. Antidepressants and alcohol: What's the concern?
  8. Antidepressants and weight gain: What causes it?
  9. Antidepressants: Can they stop working?
  10. Antidepressants: Side effects
  11. Antidepressants: Selecting one that's right for you
  12. Antidepressants: Which cause the fewest sexual side effects?
  13. Atypical antidepressants
  14. Birth control pills for acne?
  15. Caffeine and depression: Is there a link?
  16. Hidradenitis suppurativa wound care
  17. Clinical depression: What does that mean?
  18. Coping with the stress of hidradenitis suppurativa
  19. Creating a hidradenitis suppurativa care team
  20. Depression and anxiety: Can I have both?
  21. Depression, anxiety and exercise
  22. Depression: Diagnosis is key
  23. Depression in women: Understanding the gender gap
  24. Depression (major depressive disorder)
  25. Depression: Provide support, encouragement
  26. Depression: Supporting a family member or friend
  27. Don't blame pizza, fries or dirt for acne
  28. Excessive sweating
  29. Fish oil and depression
  30. Hidradenitis suppurativa
  31. Hidradenitis suppurativa and biologics: Get the facts
  32. Hidradenitis suppurativa and diet: What's recommended?
  33. Hidradenitis suppurativa: What is it?
  34. Hidradenitis suppurativa: When does it appear?
  35. Depression and diet
  36. Lexapro side effects: Is breast tenderness common?
  37. Living better with hidradenitis suppurativa
  38. Male depression: Understanding the issues
  39. Managing hidradenitis suppurativa: Early treatment is crucial
  40. Hidradenitis suppurativa-related health risks
  41. MAOIs and diet: Is it necessary to restrict tyramine?
  42. Marijuana and depression
  43. Mild depression: Are antidepressants effective?
  44. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  45. Natural acne treatment: What's most effective?
  46. Natural remedies for depression: Are they effective?
  47. Nervous breakdown: What does it mean?
  48. Over-the-counter acne products: What works and why
  49. Pain and depression: Is there a link?
  50. Reducing the discomfort of hidradenitis suppurativa: Self-care tips
  51. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  52. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  53. Staying active with hidradenitis suppurativa
  54. Surgery for hidradenitis suppurativa
  55. Take action against acne
  56. Treat acne-prone skin with care
  57. Treating hidradenitis suppurativa: Explore your options
  58. Treating hidradenitis suppurativa with antibiotics and hormones
  59. Treatment-resistant depression
  60. Tricyclic antidepressants and tetracyclic antidepressants
  61. Vitamin B-12 and depression
  62. What are the signs and symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa?