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Frequently Asked Questions


Thank you for your interest and possible participation in one of our clinical trials. 

What are my and my pet’s right as a volunteer in a Clinical Trial?Here are commonly asked questions and answers about clinical trials, which might help you better understand clinical investigations, their benefits, and what these entail.

What are Clinical Trials?

  • Clinical trials investigate new methods of prevention, diagnosis, and or treatment of various diseases and conditions.
  • They also explore new avenues in surgical technique, nutrition, drug/medicinal therapies, and alternative medicine such as acupuncture.
  • All of these approaches to prevent and treat disease are not only used in veterinary medicine but in human medicine as well and they all came out of successful clinical trials.
  • Many of the naturally occurring diseases that affect our animal friends closely resemble those suffered by humans, as a result, animal clinical trials have a profound impact on not only our furry friends but ourselves as well.
  • Although some consider the treatments/methods used in clinical trials to be “untested” they have actually been previously conducted using not only laboratory animals but also healthy volunteer animals before they are moved on to this stage.
  • As part of a clinical trial, once owner’s permission is given, samples of blood, urine, or even tissue samples for biopsies may be taken from the pet depending on the trial protocol. This is done so the investigator can gain further information that may benefit present as well as future patients. In a nutshell clinical trials help us push the science of medicine into other realms and advance the way we care for our pets and our fellow humans.

Who benefits from Clinical Trials?

  • Everyone, both human and animal!
  • Clinical trials offer hope and new solutions to human and animal patients. They can be very rewarding for the pet, their family, the veterinary investigator, and most importantly future patients.
  • Many of the effective and commonly used treatments, surgical procedures, and medications are available today because of the participation of patients enrolled in clinical trials.
  • Clinical Trial participants may also benefit from reduced cost or even free services, treatments, and medications depending on the particulars of the trial.
  • But most importantly all, patients benefit from the compassionate and professional care provided by our veterinarians and veterinary nurses.

Why should I enroll my pet in a Clinical Trial?

  • One of the main benefits to enrolling your pet into a clinical trial is that the medicine, treatment, or surgical procedure being studied could help alleviate your pet’s pain and suffering.
  • Also since your pet would be enrolling in a clinical trial at Penn Vet you can have the peace of mind knowing that your special friend will be getting the best possible care from our licensed, professional and caring Veterinarians and Veterinary Nurses.
  • Some of our trials may offer free or discounted services, medicine, or treatments for your pet.
  • The greatest benefit of all is the fact that through your pet’s participation they will help advance many facets of medicine and help countless other patients.

What are my and my pet’s right as a volunteer in a Clinical Trial?

  • You have many rights should you decide to volunteer your pet as a trial participant.
  • First and foremost you have the right to know and understand all of the risks and benefits associated with the study. These along with a thorough explanation of the trial’s goals and procedures will be discussed with you in detail by the veterinary investigator or the trial nurse before your consent is given.
  • You have the option to withdraw from the trial at anytime. Once the trial or your participation is complete you have the right to be informed of the trial’s end results if available.
  • Finally, your pet will not be enrolled in a trial unless all aspects have been completely explained and an “informed owners consent” document is signed stating that you have received all the information relevant to the trial. Then and only then will your pet be enrolled.

What regulations are there to ensure the safe and ethical conduct of a trial and of the safety of my pet?

  • Clinical trials are regulated at many levels. The Federal Government requires that all trials involving animals be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). This committee includes physicians, researchers, veterinarians, and lay personnel who are not involved in the medical field.
  • At the hospital level, the Clinical Studies Philadelphia Department, which runs the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital at Penn, has an internal committee that reviews all clinical trials conducted at the hospital. The committee helps ensure that patients involved in clinical trials receive the same high level of quality care that all patients at the Ryan Veterinary Hospital are given.
  • All staff involved in the various trials are required to participate in courses and pass examinations on safety, ethics, and animal care before they can work with a study patient.

How do I find out more or enroll my pet or client in a Clinical Trial?