Students across the world are always looking for ways to make their money go further. If you’re studying and want to take some of the strain off of your parents, you might have heard of paid clinical trials. Pharmaceutical companies are always on the lookout for students to take part in trials for untested medicines. Before you sign up to a paid trial, there are a few things you should know.
So, what are clinical trials? This all depends on the specific trial. In the UK, if you’re signing up to a phase 1 trial it means that the pharmaceutical has never been tested on humans before. These can promise enticing rates of about £120 per day. Although this sounds attractive to a lot of cash-strapped students, it’s often not as simple as walking in and popping a pill. In most clinical trials, there’s a complex screening process to see if the candidate is suitable for the specific trial. Sometimes candidates are required to go through several pre-screening sessions. They may also need to stay in a clinic for several days.
Excluding food and board, a five-day-long trial will typically earn a candidate around £1,100. During the course of this, there’ll be some thorough medical examinations. A physician will check the candidate’s V02 max, heart rate, weight, blood and urine. You’ll also be asked to sign an agreement stating you accept any risks involved and that you understand what you’re volunteering for.
Although you have to sign away your right to sue, trial centres still have duty of care. Before any drug is put forward for human trials, they have to be screened by the MHRA. They also have to be run by the Independent Ethics Committee. The IEC’s job is to study the pharmaceutical trial in question. They make sure that the clinical trial is in the interests of the public and medicine as a whole. Another body, the Independent Review Board, is involved in the process. They have to ensure that all human volunteers are protected from both physical and psychological harm.
One of the biggest qualms students have about clinical trials is the fear that they’ll be fed a dangerous, experimental drug. This is exceptionally unlikely with all the different screening phases required for these kinds of trials. Of course, there have been certain incidents resulting from clinical trials. However, between the recognised government institutions and pressure groups like AllTrials, there’s very little room for dangerous negligence.
The risk involved in modern clinical trials is very low, however the whole experience is likely to be inconvenient at times. In the UK, you’ll almost certainly be required to meet specific lifestyle requirements. Many trials require the volunteer to abstain from alcohol. You may need to eat certain things at certain times, and use multiple contraception methods. Generally, if you’re found to have broken these requirements there’ll be a big reduction in your pay.
Although rigorously controlled, there are always risks involved for student volunteers in clinical trials. If you’re considering volunteering, make sure to soak in all the information available to you before taking part.