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Clinical trials and research

When Kathleen Pemberton developed rheumatoid arthritis, she decided to take part in a clinical trial of a new treatment.

When Kathleen Pemberton developed rheumatoid arthritis, it progressed rapidly. Within six months she was in serious pain. Most of her joints were inflamed and she had difficulty moving around.

At her first consultation at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, east London, the specialist suggested she consider taking part in a new clinical trial.

''It was a trial of a new treatment that had been accepted for use in America, but needed to be tested in England,'' says Kathleen.

''I was keen to take part because the painkillers I was on weren't working and I was looking for a treatment that did work. I didn't get paid any money, but I wanted to see if it could help.

''I saw a clinical trial nurse and she was thorough and helpful. She made sure I understood the risks. There was a series of consultations at the hospital, but not too many.''

While Kathleen received the medication through a drip into her arm, she was in a pleasant ward with plenty of cups of tea. She was given one of a group of medicines called TNF inhibitors, originally developed through NHS research at the Kennedy Institute in London.

Kathleen's condition improved, and when the trial finished two years later she went on to another TNF inhibitor medicine that had already been approved for health service use.

Kathleen says that, looking back, she would take part in a trial again. ''Everybody was so kind and nice. I would recommend it to anybody. You're well looked after.''

It was a bonus for Kathleen to know she was a small part of the research that established TNF inhibitors as an important part of rheumatoid arthritis treatment.

''The pain and mobility problems of rheumatoid arthritis are beyond belief. You're in pain all the time.

''I'm pleased to have been one of the people who've shown how these treatments can help people with rheumatoid arthritis.''

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