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The global race to combat the current pandemic has put medicine development in the spotlight and made clinical trials front-page news. To go beyond the headlines, we spoke with Marie-Pierre Hellio Le Graverand, M.D., Ph.D., a leader in drug development for Pfizer, and asked her for three takeaways she’d want people to have about clinical trials, what they are, and why they matter. 

We all need clinical trials to develop new medicines — and clinical trials need us, too

Marie-Pierre’s training as both a physician and scientist has provided her with a unique perspective on what it takes to translate insights from the laboratory into life-changing new medicines. 

It’s a perspective that makes her especially grateful to the thousands of people who volunteer each year to participate in clinical trials. 

“One of the big reasons I chose to devote my career to drug development was that it’s an opportunity to bring new medicines and vaccines to help people across the world,” she says. “New medicines have the potential to change and save lives. And those new medicines would not be possible without the thousands of people who participate in clinical trials.” 

As Marie-Pierre explains, every prescription medicine we depend upon today was first tested in a clinical trial. And every medicine we hope to develop for tomorrow depends on the people that continue to participate in these clinical trials. 

Clinical trials are always safety-first

Advancing science and helping develop new medicines is the goal of each clinical trial. That said, as Marie-Pierre explains, it’s the people who join clinical trials who are always the priority.

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“It starts with careful safety planning, long before a single person joins,” she says. Potential participants are carefully evaluated to be sure it’s the right trial for them, and each trial site is run by a specialized team of doctors and medical staff, with oversight provided through continuous monitoring. “The focus is always on the participants, keeping people’s safety top of mind,” Marie-Pierre says. “Their health and well-being is always our top priority.“

We all have a part to play

Medicines being studied to help one patient population or age group require volunteers from that specific population. “But most new medicines and vaccines also depend on the participation of healthy volunteers,” Marie-Pierre says. 

“The medicines we rely on today benefited from the help of thousands of healthy people, representing all our global diversity. In order to ensure that new medicines and vaccines can help everybody, everybody has to be represented in these studies,” she explains. “We all have something we can contribute to making the world a healthier place.” 

To hear more voices and perspectives on clinical trials, from site partners to participants, please join us at www.pfizer.com/WhatToExpect. Together, breakthroughs are possible. 

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