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What are clinical trials and why do they matter?

The first chapter of the world's pharmacological success stories

Why are medical trials conducted?

Let us the the world's most talk about little blue pill, we'll leave out the commercial name and use the generic term: Sildenafill, as an example. It is the first effective impotence drug that can be taken orally. From the Spam boxes in our collective inboxes we know that it must be popular as the world's fraudsters have locked onto its selling power.

Now Sildenafill was first made by a group of chemists at Pfizer's research facilitiy in Kent, England. They reckoned it might help with high blood pressure and angina, chest pain by a restriction in the blood flow to the heart muscle. To figure out if they were right they first had to conduct some pre-clinical trials to make sure it wasn't poisonous. It wasn't.

Next they invited volunteers who suffered of angina to join a medical trial to ascertain if Viagra would help alleviate the pain. The drug trials were held at Morriston Hospital in Swansea. Results showed that the scientists were wrong. It did not help for angina but it sure caused a few unexpected erections.

The medical trial was then changed to study the possibility that Pfizer might have discovered the world's first oral impotency drug. Tests began in 1993 to see if Viagra could indeed be used to treat erectile dysfunction. Three thousand volunteers took part in the study that was broken down in 21 studies. Researchers looked to see if was in fact effective and also looked out of possible side-effects.

The data collected showed that Viagra was indeed the first effective oral impotency drug discovered - and the rest, as they say, is history.

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