Usually, the effectiveness of a drug is compared by looking at it against against a placebo (sugar pill with no medication in it). Another common type of comparison is looking at a new drug and another drug already approved for use. A comparison is needed to understand that the medication works and also to see if the medication is safe. Researchers will design the clinical trial for a specific period of time, during which the people participating will either get the treatment, or the comparison treatment. Typically a study is done “double-blind,” which means that neither the researchers giving the treatments nor the participants know who is getting which treatment. This prevents “bias,” which means expectations that could influence the outcome of the study.
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