Monday, June 15, 2020

Clinical trials press forward in age of COVID


     Jim Butler is receiving his monthly 45-minute infusion of drugs.
     What kind of drugs? He doesn’t know. Nor do the nurses administering them. Could be an experimental medicine that will help his brain fight Alzheimer’s disease. Or could be a placebo that does nothing.
     Only one doctor conducting the medical research at Great Lakes Clinical Trials knows what drug Butler is getting, and even he doesn’t know what the effect will be.
     None of this influences Butler’s determination to be here.
     “I got an Alzheimer’s diagnosis four years ago,” said Butler, 71, who describes the disease as causing “multiple times a day, cognitive hiccups, confusion.”
     One thing he is not confused about is the importance of participating in research.
     “The simplest reason is I like to be very proactive about my diagnosis,” he said. “My game plan is not to get overwhelmed and unsettled at these things. To try to smile at them, dismiss them, let them go. A clinical trial is an enormously great way to do that.”
     Clinical trials are the minor leagues of medicine. Before drug companies can sign up a star cure to wow the public, they need to know if it can deliver. To do that, they spend billions of dollars and commission hundreds of small clinics like Great Lakes Clinical Trials, which opened in Andersonville in 2014. There is a second location in Arlington Heights.

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  1. I generally shudder at references to "battling" a disease, but here those who patiently endure infusions that they can't be sure contain even the possibility of a positive result, are beyond being on the front lines -- they are the advance scouts, risking all to bring back intel on a formidable, perhaps invincible, foe, knowing that they will get no plaudits or even recognition regardless of the results.


  2. Should these trials result in finding a cure or even a medication to delay the disease, I hope that all the trial participants would receive the medication free of charge.

    Bob Y


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