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Finding Better Treatment Through Clinical Trial Participation

February 10, 2014

There were two reasons Keith Sutton decided to join a clinical trial to test a therapy for gout. He hoped to get better, but he also wanted to help advance medicine. Doing so, he says, "can be helpful to you, to family, to community, and the medical community,”

Keith Sutton had suffered from gout — a potentially debilitating form of arthritis —for years, but his flare-ups were becoming more and more frequent. So when he saw an ad in the newspaper for a clinical trial testing a drug for gout, he was intrigued.

He qualified for the study and enrolled, but not fearlessly. “Anytime you participate in a trial it is a little scary,” says the Raleigh resident. “But I decided to give it a try, in part because it was Duke.”

The trial was testing a drug that Sutton was already taking, but at a low dose. In the study, his dosage was increased over time. “At the end of the study, the conclusion was that 500 mg was the magic number. I have not had a flare-up in over a year,” he says.

The control of his gout symptoms was the best, but not the only, benefit of participating in a clinical trial at Duke. “Not only do you have the study drug, but you are under the constant care at one of the world’s best hospitals,” says Sutton. “At every visit, they check your vitals, urine, and blood, so it’s like getting a free physical every visit. So your health improves as well.”

Lastly, the chance to make a contribution to the advancement of medicine was enticing to Sutton. “Researchers sometimes struggle to find people to participate in research, especially African Americans and minorities. How would doctors ever know how to treat different races if they don’t have study subjects of different races? It can be helpful to you, to family, to the community, and the medical community,” he says.

For Sutton and thousands of others, participation in a clinical trial provides access to cutting-edge care and the chance to make a difference.

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