When your child is sick with a fever or you’re suffering from a terrible migraine, you’re grateful for the Tylenol and Advil in your medicine cabinet. Despite your appreciation, it’s easy to overlook the complex and tedious research that once occurred to make those medications available to all consumers.
Many of our most common household items, from birth control pills to widely used cholesterol medication, are only available thanks to the careful research performed in clinical trials around the country.
The drug epinephrine has existed for over 100 years, but it’s only been available through an epinephrine auto injector, better known as an EpiPen, since 1987. That’s when the FDA approved the EpiPen as a hand-held device capable of delivering an injection of epinephrine to prevent a severe allergic reaction.
Today, children and adults with deadly food, insect, and medication allergies must carry an Epipen with them at all times. By reducing swelling in the airway and increasing blood flow in the veins, epinephrine delivered through the Epipen auto-injector can reduce the severe side effects of an allergic reaction.
The first generic version of the EpiPen wasn’t released until 21 years after the name brand product. In 2018, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA gained approval to market its generic epinephrine auto-injector in 0.3 mg and 0.15 mg strengths. This ensures lower costs with the same quality and safety for the patients who rely on epinephrine the most.
After more than a decade of clinical research, Metformin was approved by the FDA in 1995 as an oral diabetes medication. It’s meant to help patients with type 2 diabetes by inhibiting the release of hepatic glucose. Clinical trials demonstrated Metformin’s ability to lower HbA1c values, improve lipid profiles, and help manage diabetes with relatively few serious side effects.
As a result, Metformin is still one of the most popular diabetes medications more than two decades after its FDA approval. Ongoing clinical trials continue to study the correlation between metformin and longevity, aging, and more.
Since its approval in 1996, Lipitor has become the second-most prescribed medication in the United States. As of 2017, more than 104 million prescriptions of Lipitor had been filled. The FDA approval for Lipitor was based on four clinical trials: ASCOT, CARDS, TNT, and IDEAL. Each trial confirmed that Lipitor aids in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, for patients with high cholesterol.
The Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial (ASCOT), for example, was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 10,305 hypertensive volunteers between 40 and 80 years of age. It found like 10 mg of Lipitor daily significantly reduced the risk of fatal coronary heart disease and non-fatal heart attack.
The very first birth control clinical trial began in 1954 to study the effects of synthetic progesterone and estrogen. After six years, the FDA approved “the pill” to stop ovulation in women and prevent pregnancy. More than 60% of women of reproductive age now use this form of contraception, although it has evolved significantly since those first early trials.
Today, clinical trials have made it possible to offer women many different forms, strengths, and types of birth control, from the patch to intrauterine devices (IUDs). In fact, clinical research continues to this day as experts seek to make birth control as safe, effective, and affordable as possible for all women.