What is a Clinical Trial Database?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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A clinical trial database is a listing of ongoing clinical trials. People can search the database to identify trials by condition, medication, device, or stage. These databases can be used in a number of different ways by clinicians, members of the public, and government regulators. Many are available online, provided free of charge by government agencies or organizations interested in scientific research. Organizations that sponsor clinical trials also maintain databases of their ongoing trials and make this information available to the public.

In a clinical trial, medical researchers test a new medication, medical device, or approach to treatment in a controlled environment. The goal is to determine whether it is medically valuable. Topics evaluated during a clinical trial include whether the thing being tested works as intended, what the side effects and complications are, and how many people respond to it. The study moves through several different stages. If the conclusion is that the subject of the trial is clinically useful, the clinical trial data is used to support an application to federal regulators to approve the drug, treatment, or device for sale.


Because clinical trials involve human subjects and accompanying medical and ethical risks, they must be approved by ethics boards that review the planned trial methodology. In addition, when a clinical trial begins, it must be registered with government regulators who supervise medical research and the safety of medical treatments. These registrations are used to create a clinical trial database that describes all trials currently underway and provides information on the outcome of past clinical trials.

Government agencies are not the only groups that maintain databases. Organizations that research specific diseases usually keep a database of clinical trials covering topics relevant to their interests. Likewise, pharmaceutical developers and medical device manufacturers maintain their own databases. At any given time, thousands of clinical trials of varying sizes can be found in a clinical trial database.

Using a clinical trial database, members of the public can locate clinical trials they may be eligible to join. Clinical trial volunteers receive access to the latest advances in treatment and care, contributing to scientific research that can improve safety and treatment options in the process. People can also monitor clinical trial progress if they are interested in knowing when proposed treatments will be available to the public. Regulators follow a clinical trial database to track trends that might indicate safety concerns about the trial, such as high numbers of deaths in participants.


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