NIH launches Web site that provides information about clinical trials

Patients suffering from diseases with no known cures or from illnesses that can be treated with multiple remedies now have an online resource with information about more than 4,000 federal and private clinical trials that could help them.

The National Institutes of Health on Tuesday launched ClinicalTrials.gov, the first phase of a federally mandated program to broaden the public's access to information on clinical trials. Trials are conducted when there is no proven treatment for a disease or to test treatments for a particular condition to find the best remedy.

"ClinicalTrials.gov is a resource that will benefit trial participants, researchers, health care professionals and, over time, the general public," said Dr. Donald A. B. Lindberg, director of NIH's National Library of Medicine, which developed and oversees the new database.

Legislation passed in 1997 requires the Department of Health and Human Services, through the NIH, to establish a registry for both federally and privately funded trials on drugs for serious or life-threatening diseases and conditions.

"The project is proceeding in several major phases," said Alexa McCray, director of ClinicalTrials.gov. "In the first phase, we were interested in collecting information primarily about studies that are being funded by NIH or that are being conducted right here on the NIH campus."

McCray said the next phase would include trials not sponsored by NIH as well as those from other federal agencies and the private sector.

The site is confidential and no registration or personal identification is required.

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