Getting paid for laying around in your dressing gown munching pizza after being pumped full of drugs sounds a little too good to be true but this is what His Dudeness Ralf Kreuze does to finance his travels.
A fan of the champion of the housecoat, Jeff Lebowski, Ralf is a serial drug trial volunteer. Describing himself as a plain old lazy bum he has travelled to Albania, India, Iran, Pakistan, Oman, Azerbaijan and Nepal, among other places, on the money he receives from the inconvenience of being stuck with needles.
Fortunately us travellers are used to needles because they play a big part in the life of a human lab rat. Having them jabbed into veins, either to put drugs in or to take blood out, along with watching DVDs are the major past times in the medical trial world. If you do not like needles, some drugs can be taken orally, inhaled or applied directly to the skin.
Clinical trials are run by or for the big pharmaceutical companies. In the USA alone around $10 billion is invested in up to 80,000 trials each year.
The rewards for participating in a trial can be lucrative. Research organisers pay for your time, travel and discomfort and residential stays are particularly helpful for travellers looking for a free bed. Example remunerations include £3000 for a 28 day residential study of a new drug being developed for the treatment of chronic pain.
Men are more in demand for drug trials. For safety reasons many clinical trials of drugs are designed to exclude women of childbearing age. Race, age, weight, medical history, alcohol consumption and current or past use of drugs or cigarettes are other factors that can determine the eligibility of a volunteer.
Healthy volunteers are mostly needed for Phase II trails. Phase I involves testing a small group of people for the first time to evaluate the safety of a new drug, determine a safe dosage range and identify side effects.
Phase II trials involve a larger group of volunteers to confirm a drugs effectiveness and further evaluate its safety. Nursing staff will monitor your progress and trials are approved by independent ethics committees.
- Weigh up the inconvenience and discomfort against the cash.
- If you don’t like the idea of testing a new drug look for trails of foreign drugs that have been tested overseas but need testing again to gain a UK license.
- Quit smoking to increase your chances of being accepted onto a trial.
- If you are uncomfortable subjecting your body to experimentation consider volunteering for sleep disorder or psychological research.
- Though the risks are small, they are still present. Reduce the risk by signing up for phase II trials as data has already been gathered from phase I volunteers.
Can It Go Wrong
It’s rare (rare enough that it makes the newspapers) but it can happen. In March 2006, the drug TGN1412 caused catastrophic organ failure to those participating in phase I trials.
Finding Drug Trials
Lists places where drug trials are conducted around the UK and the world.
Search this registry of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the United States and around the world.
Clinical Trials Portal
For anyone involved in clinical trials from the researcher to the volunteer.
Current Controlled Trials
Though aimed at researchers, this list of around 15,000 trials taking place across the world can be accessed by anyone.
A portal for clinical trials around the UK. They also have sites for the USA and Australia.
Short for Guinea Pigs Get Paid, GPGP is a directory listing clinical studies units in the USA and around the world.
GSK UK Clinical Trials
GlaxoSmithKline hold trials in London and Cambridge.
ICON Development Solutions
Volunteers can register to join trials in Manchester, UK or Omaha and San Antonio, USA.
Imperial College London
Current studies are listed with an email address to get in touch.
Just Another Lab Rat
Written by a guy who has taken part in 35 studies. Lists trials in the USA and provides plenty of useful tips.
Looks for healthy volunteers to take part in clinical trials at a research unit set in 22 acres of parkland near Cambridge, UK.
Register and they will send your details directly to companies who are looking for volunteers to take part in their medical research studies.
Paid Clinical Trails
A worldwide clinical trials database.
Trials are held in the UK in Harrow, and in California, Baltimore, Germany and South Africa.
The drug research unit at Guy’s Hospital in London primarily conducts Phase
I trials on healthy volunteers.
Drug trials in Kansas.
Volunteer for trials in Nottingham or Edinburgh.
A US service that registers volunteers for free. Researchers get in touch if they think you are a suitable match for their trials.
Medical research studies are held in two research units in south London.
Volunteers wanted to participate in their clinics in Texas and Utah.
Shandon Clinic Group
Perform between 20 and 30 clinical studies each year in Cork, Ireland.
Surrey Clinical Research Centre
Based at the University of Surrey in Guildford. Register online to become a volunteer.
Veeda Clinical Research
A phase I clinical trials unit based in Plymouth, UK.
Photo courtesy of nathanf
Would you subject your body to medical experiments so you can afford to go travelling? Let us know below: