An aspirin a day: Clinical trial aims to find cheaper ways to research medicine

For four decades, people have been taking aspirin to ward off strokes and heart attacks. But is the commonly used “baby aspirin” dose of 81 milligrams better, or the regular dose of 325 milligrams?

To help settle the issue, an unusual clinical trial is underway at Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas and five other locations nationwide.

Over the next three years, 20,000 patients across the nation will participate in the large study. And in a departure from typical drug research, participants will self-report much of the information researchers will analyze, including their use of aspirin.

Power to the patient

“To have patients play such a central reporting role is the unusual part of the study, and it’s the part that could prove the most valuable,” said Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH, the study-site principal investigator and cardiologist on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

If this research works, he said, the cost of similar research could drop dramatically — from about $20,000 per participant to just $1,000 — making more drug studies affordable. That could include studies common, over-the-counter vitamins and minerals and their claims to help memory, dementia, weight loss, prostate health and more (In most clinical trials, research staff control and record use of medicines being tested, which is one reason such studies are so costly).

“The biggest challenge we face is whether patients will actually participate in the way we need them to, to enter their own information in our databases and take the dose as directed,” Dr. McCullough said.

“So not only are we researching aspirin doses, we’re researching the research methods.”

Future studies like this could allow more patients to be actively engaged in research that could benefit them and society as a whole, Dr. McCullough said.

To learn more about the aspirin study online, visit the aspirinstudy.org. You can learn more about other clinical trials Baylor Scott & White Health is participating in on our website.

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An aspirin a day: Clinical trial aims to find cheaper ways to research medicine