At Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, our goal is always to provide the highest standard of care for your pet. As an academic veterinary medical center, we are constantly exploring and evaluating novel treatments, new diagnostics, and devices that have the potential to improve the outcomes for veterinary patients with a variety of diseases.
If the results of a clinical trial are promising, deciding to volunteer your pet could benefit the veterinary care of other animals in the future. Successful outcomes from veterinary clinical trials could also lead to comparable human clinical trials because people and companion animals suffer from many of the same or similar disorders.
All requirements necessary for entering and participating in a clinical trial will be carefully explained in advance. Each trial is led by one principal investigator (PI) with other veterinarians and staff providing expertise and support. All clinical trials at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center are rigorously evaluated by the Clinical Studies Review Committee (CSRC) and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) prior to approval.
Prior to enrolling your pet into a study, you will receive a consent form that provides details about the study, your responsibilities, and commitments associated with the study, potential risks and benefits and what financial considerations are provided following enrollment. You will then be given the opportunity to discuss the study with your family veterinarian and study personnel. Should you decide to enter your pet into the study, you will be asked to sign the consent form. This process is termed Informed Consent.
Most studies require several visits to the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center, although some are relatively simple and only one visit is required. In certain instances, your pet may need to stay overnight in the hospital for treatment or monitoring associated with the study. The specific details and commitments of a study will provided to you to ensure that you understand the visit schedule and time commitments necessary for participation.
With respect to any the financial aspects of the trial, details are outlined at the time the informed consent is signed. A member of the team works closely with the hospital accounting team as well as the funding source for each trial to ensure that procedures are charged appropriately and correctly to the proper responsible party. This would also include any financial incentive in the form of a hospital account credit, if applicable, to be applied when your pet’s participation is complete.
Since many therapies represent new treatment approaches, it is important that the animals adhere to strict protocol guidelines to minimize the possibility of side effects.
Most often, clients will visit the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center for multiple appointments. At each of these visits, we will keep your family veterinarian updated and share the progress of your pet. Most clinical trials will include a patient diary that will be sent home with you on enrollment day so you can chronicle how your pet is handling the treatment and any side effects associated with treatment. This diary can also be used to help track medications and other study-related activities.
When you return for visits with your completed diary, a member of the team (veterinary technician and/or veterinarian) will come out to the reception area, speak with you about how your pet is feeling, document any side effects and let you know what will be happening at this current visit. Your pet will then be taken back into the hospital for the procedure(s) that need to be performed. If it is a procedure that will take an extended amount of time, you will have the option of waiting on campus or leaving with a general idea of when to return.
During the clinical study, your pet will receive care from a highly specialized support team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians who monitor progress in the study very closely. For all study patients, quality of life is important, and every effort is made to ensure that your pet is happy and feeling good for the duration of the trial.
When participation in a clinical trial is complete and follow up is still recommended, care may continue under the veterinarian associated with the Clinical Trials Office or your pet may be transitioned to another doctor within Cummings Veterinary Medical Center for continued care. It is also possible that your pet will return to your primary veterinarian for additional care. The Clinical Trials Office will provide all records of what occurred during the trial to your family veterinarian.