What Is a Placebo and Why Is It Used In Clinical Trials?

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Placebo in Clinical Trials—What Are Placebo Clinical Trials and How To Enroll

Placebos have become a crucial element in clinical trials for studying the real effects that a certain drug has on volunteers, even though many scientists still consider them unethical.

Creating a placebo-controlled group in clinical studies has proven to be an efficient approach to treatment trials. By figuring out the real effects of a drug, researchers can compare it to the treatments already in use and see which option is better.

What Are Placebo Medical Trials?

Also known as placebo-controlled studies, placebo clinical trials are an essential part of testing a new drug.

Most clinical trials are conducted in five phases:

  • Phase 0—Dedicated to testing how the human body reacts when given a small dose of a new drug
  • Phase I—In this phase, researchers aim to determine the safest dose of the drug
  • Phase II—Researchers examine if the new treatment is effective and monitor the severity of side effects
  • Phase III—Dedicated to testing the effect and safety of a drug on larger groups of people. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should approve the new drug in this phase
  • Phase IV—Includes anyone who wants to try out the treatment, and it is dedicated to monitoring the new drug’s long-term effects

Placebo is usually introduced in phase II, when the trial includes at least two groups of volunteers.

This phase of clinical trials can involve hundreds of people. There’s no limit to how many groups the patients are divided into, though the number doesn’t usually go over four.

One group is a control group that gets an inactive drug that could cause a placebo effect in some volunteers, and other groups get the actual new treatment. Patients in the placebo-controlled group don’t know that they aren’t given the new medication.

This approach allows the researchers to understand the real effects that the new drug has on patients.

The only situation when volunteers are informed about a placebo is during cancer clinical trials. Using a placebo in clinical studies dedicated to cancer isn’t common practice, and it’s only justified when it’s scientifically necessary and the participants are informed.

Different rules apply to clinical trials dedicated to cancer because of the severity of the disease. Patients usually turn to this type of clinical trial after all available treatments have failed. Creating false hope is unethical, and that’s why researchers have to be honest about the placebo group.

Cancer clinical trials that include a placebo-controlled group are usually dedicated to testing a drug that would slow down tumor growth.

Some conditions, such as sleep disorders, pain, and depression, could benefit from a placebo because the volunteers, believing that they’re receiving the medication, start feeling better psychologically. Serious diseases can’t be cured even though patients might feel as good as if the drug was effective.

What’s the Fastest Solution for Finding a Placebo Clinical Trial?

By definition, clinical trials are challenging to find and enroll in. DoNotPay’s fantastic tool helps you apply for medical surveys, paid clinical trials for healthy volunteers, or any other type of clinical research fast and easy.

Open your DoNotPay account from a and follow these steps:

  1. Click on Get Started in the Clinical Trials section
  2. Specify your preferences
  3. Select the study you like
  4. Click on Contact Now

We will contact the researchers immediately and send your application via email.

It’s usually not possible to choose to be in a clinical trial group that gets a placebo drug instead of the treatment that’s being tested. The researchers randomly select who will be in a placebo group to make sure the results are legitimate.

While you can’t choose to be in a placebo-controlled group, you can take advantage of one of the many useful features that DoNotPay’s clinical trial tool offers.

When specifying individual preferences, let us know that you’re okay with being in a placebo group, and we will list the studies that include them.

Since almost every study includes placebos in clinical trial phases II and III, your chances of participating in one of them are high.

Another perk of relying on our tool is that you can specify your current location, and DoNotPay will list all of the clinical trials close to you. We can help you find clinical studies in any state in the U.S., including:

Is There Any Other Option for Applying for Placebo Clinical Trials?

These are some alternatives ways to find clinical trials in your area:

AlternativesHow To Find Clinical Trials

Research Match

  1. Visit the website
  2. Click on the Trials tab
  3. Click on Start Searching!
  4. Answer the questions and provide your info
  5. Click on View Results
  6. Select the study you like
  7. Click on Send My Information and Next

Mayo Clinic

  1. Visit the website
  2. Click on Find Clinical Trials in the dropdown menu of the Research tab
  3. Type in the condition or treatment
  4. Click on the Search button
  5. Click on the study you like


  1. Visit the website
  2. Answer the questions on the right side of the homepage
  3. Click on Search
  4. Click on the study you like
  5. Click on See Contacts and Locations

There’s no way of telling which group of participants you’ll be assigned to. That’s why the safest option is to apply for phases II or III of a clinical trial since they usually include a control group.

DoNotPay Offers Much Better Features!

DoNotPay is the only app that allows you to specify that you’re okay with placebos, making your search efficient and sparing you the guesswork.

We also offer many other features that can come in handy when you want to:

  • Bookmark the studies that haven’t started with the recruiting and follow their progress
  • Classify studies you enrolled in based on date, time, location, compensation, etc.
  • Get a notification about the newest clinical trials in your area to be one of the first volunteers to apply
  • Monitor the progress of the trials you applied for from your homepage

Our database is always up-to-date and offers a wide variety of clinical trials regardless of your age, gender, or condition.

What To Keep in Mind Before Participating in a Clinical Trial

Regardless of your motivation to apply for medical studies, be it for the treatment or financial gain, you should always read the protocol and contract.

If you feel like side effects and potential risks are too severe, talk to your doctor before enrolling, especially if the research in question is still in an early stage and the safety of the new drug is still being tested.

Explore All the Useful Tools That DoNotPay Offers!

Count on our tool whenever you want to participate in clinical trials dedicated to conditions such as hepatitis C, breast cancer, glioblastoma, or lupus. We can also help you find clinical trials dedicated to a certain drug or type of treatment, including LSD, ketamine, gene therapy, stem cells, etc.

DoNotPay comes to the rescue when you’re dealing with complex administrative issues. Once you log in to you account from a , you can count on us to help you:

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