June 2001 MedBytes: Clinical Trials and Investigational Medicine

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June's MedBytes deals with clinical trials for drug treatments and investigational surgeries.

Webmd.lycos.com/content/dmk/dmk_article_5963095 gives a very clear and concise definition of what makes up a clinical trial. The article discusses investigational treatments, the process of drug testing, and the issues regarding insurance coverage for patients involved with experimental medicine. Alternative and complementary therapies available for different conditions are also mentioned. This article is a good first step in understanding patients' options for clinical trials.

A service of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this Web site (clinicaltrials.gov) indexes and compiles information about surgical and drug treatments sponsored by the NIH and other government-affiliated institutions. You can search for these trials by condition, location of the trial, the trial phase, age group, and other search criteria. Industry (commercial) trials will be added to this site later in the year.

Centerwatch.com is the most comprehensive Web site concerning investigational treatments and clinical trials. Both patients and health care professionals can visit specific sections with personalized content. Patients can browse industry and government trials, search reference materials on medical research, and find out the status of new drugs. Health care professionals can read industry news, investigate clinical research centers, and browse through a collection of links pertaining to investigational medicine and clinical trials.

National Institutes of Health
The official government Web site for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center is www.cc.nih.gov. The center offers patients the chance to participate in government-sponsored studies dealing with such diverse topics as cancer, allergies, dentistry, and diabetes. The site also offers health care professionals a news section, training programs, and a conference schedule. General information about the hospital at NIH and staff is available as well.

NIH research standards
The textbook of standards for working within the NIH program is at www.cc.nih.gov/ccc/clinicalresearch/standards.html. Protocols and procedures that every clinician and research worker must follow in the NIH program are included in this Web site. Links and contact information are included for further questions.

International Conference of Harmonisation
The Web site for the International Conference of Harmonisation is http://www.ich.org/. The conference concerns itself with health professionals in Europe, Japan, and the United States who are trying to develop new medicines. To avoid possible duplication of effort, the Web site has guidelines for development that are available to download.

Texas Medical Association
Billing for treating Medicaid patients can be confusing. Now TMA has the answer to questions about issues related to Texas Medicaid global billing periods. An online guide gives you the global billing period for individual procedures ... or all procedures related to a single body system. By knowing the global period for a procedure, you can determine the dates on which you can or cannot bill for another service. Check out TMA's global billing guide on the TMA Web site. The guide has been placed in the public section of the Web site so office staff can access it easily. As a special bonus for TMA members, you can also download the entire guide onto your handheld computer for easy access all day long.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest to Texas physicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site at www.texmed.org. If you know of some cool medical sites or have questions about how to use the TMA Web site, email Erin Prather. Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the Texas Medical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.  

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