The objective of medical research is to understand, develop and apply means of maintaining and improving human health. Above all, medical science is about clinical research and trials concerning humans. Clinical trials are tests where scientific methods are applied to humans to study health and illness. The main focus is on the practical aspects of the work of medical professionals and on patient care.
This so-called evidence-based medicine aims to find the best possible treatments for individual patients. One typical example of clinical trials is drug trials, where the objective is to investigate the effectiveness and safety of pharmaceutical products in treating different illnesses.
Due to the nature of the research, clinical trials compromise the integrity of the research subjects. For example, subjects may be given investigational medicinal products the tolerability or effectiveness of which is not yet fully known. Subjects may also be exposed to procedures (blood or urine sampling, tests and examinations) that would not be carried out in the course of normal treatment. The sponsors must obtain informed consent from the subjects for these kinds of procedures.
Unknown risks and unexpected adverse effects are inherent in medical research. This is why it is vital to establish common trial practices and methods for protecting the rights of the research subjects. Legislation ensures that clinical science uses efficient methods, produces reliable results, and conforms to ethical principles.