What happens after a clinical trial is completed?

After a clinical trial is completed, the researchers carefully examine information collected during the study before making decisions about the meaning of the findings and about further testing. After a phase I or II trial, the researchers decide whether to move on to the next phase or to stop testing the investigational drug or device because it was unsafe or ineffective. When a phase III trial is completed, the researchers examine the data and decide whether the results have medical importance.

Results from clinical trials are often published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Peer review is a process by which experts review the report before it is published to ensure that the analysis and conclusions are sound. If the results are particularly important, they may be featured in news media and discussed at scientific meetings and by patient advocacy groups before they are published. Once a new approach has been proven safe and effective in a clinical trial, it may become the standard of medical practice.

Ask the research team members if the study results have been or will be published. Published study results are also available by searching for the study’s official name or Protocol ID number in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed® database.