What is drug research?

Each one of us uses a drug at some time or another; from a simple painkiller to a drug that is prescribed by a doctor. However, the availability of drugs cannot be taken for granted. They are the outcome of a huge amount of research by doctors and scientists that requires the help of volunteers. Without volunteers, there would be no new or improved drugs.

The route from laboratory to pharmacy

It takes many years before a new drug may be dispensed. In that period, the drug is first investigated in the laboratories of the drug developer. If the results there are good and the drug seems to be safe for people, then the doctors and researchers of PRA test the drug in low doses on healthy volunteers. They observe how the drug is absorbed and what the effect or side effects are.

In this first phase of research with volunteers, the drug receives the status ‘safe for people’. In the second phase, the drug is tested on patients. For example, people with asthma, diabetes or Parkinson's disease. The doctors and researchers examine whether the drug works, what the correct dosage is, and whether the outcome is positive. All the test results together form a large dossier. This dossier goes to the Medicines Evaluation Board, which assesses whether a new drug may be sold in the Netherlands. If the drug is approved, then it is registered as an official medicine. And from then on, doctors may prescribe it to patients.

PRA does not only investigate new drugs. It also investigates new forms or combinations of existing drugs. There are also drugs that have been approved and are available elsewhere in the world but only receive approval in Europe or the Netherlands after additional drug research.

This is why you participate in drug research

You can participate in drug research for various reasons. For example, because you want to give patients a better life. Or because you have a lot of time to spend freely during the research and you want to use the time at the research center in a pleasant or worthwhile manner. Or because you receive a compensation. Taking part in drug research is a worthwhile activity for everybody involved.

At the research center

PRA's drug research takes place at the research center in Groningen, where you stay with the other volunteers in your group. The research center is like a hospital, but far cozier. How do you spend your time at the research center?