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Looking for a job? How about guinea pig? Doctors and scientists all over the country need volunteers to test a variety of medical products and procedures, and these volunteers don't work for free.

Although there is no set compensation for clinical trial participants, they typically make anywhere from $100 to $300 per day and can make much more depending upon the nature of the clinical trial.

These studies range from intensive treatment to simple telephone calls, and the requirements of the volunteers could be very broad (anyone over 18) to very specific (type 2 diabetics over 50, for example).

One study in the Big Apple is looking for New Yorkers of Dominican ancestry with a knowledge of medicinal plants from their own region, while another is simply looking for women older than 18 to participate in a study on pregnant women with depression.

Many people who join these studies are healthy and just looking to make a quick buck, but for those who are actually sick looking for an experimental drug, it is important to know that there is a chance they will end up in the placebo group and not actually receive any treatment.

Resources
ClinicalTrials.gov and ClinicalConnection.com are two resources to that help people find clinical studies in specific areas. They allow users to search by location and/or trial topic. ClinicalTrials.gov is federally funded and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, but note that some of the listings on the site are out of date.

ClinicalConnection.com boasts not only a list of clinical trials all over the country, but also hosts message boards about the various clinics and trials where users may share their personal experiences.

Neither Web site includes compensation amounts in the listings.

Another great way to find clinical trials is checking with local colleges. Universities often host clinical trials and advertise not only the nature of the study, but also the compensation rates.  These studies often draw students looking to make some extra cash, but generally aren’t just limited to the university community. To find them, simply contact the medical and scientific departments at your local college and ask if there are any current studies.

Types of Trials
According to the National Institutes of Health, there are five types of clinical trials:

  • Treatment: Experimental treatments like new combinations of drugs or new approaches to existing surgeries or therapies
  • Prevention: Medicines, vaccines, vitamins, minerals or lifestyle changes to prevent diseases or prevent relapses
  • Diagnostic: Procedures for diagnosing conditions, typically testing those presenting symptoms
  • Screening: Detection methods for certain diseases or health conditions, often testing both those with and without symptoms
  • Quality of life: Also known as supportive care trials, testing ways to improve the quality of life for those with chronic illnesses


Within each of these types, there are four phases:

  • Phase I tests a small, typically healthy, group of 20 to 80 people for the first time to evaluate a drug’s safety. After this phase, the drug may be refined based on these results for continued study.
  • Phases II and III test progressively larger groups of people as more becomes known about the drug or treatment’s efficacy and side effects.
  • In Phase IV, studies are done on the drug or treatment after it has been marketed and sold to compile more information on the drug’s risks, benefits, and other possible uses.

Each level of trial carries its own risk and drawbacks, such as a higher chance of side effects in Phase I, but a lengthier testing time in Phase III.

In each case, there are several safeguards put in place such as rigorous laboratory testing before it ever comes to a human study and federally mandated insurance for all patients involved. These regulations also cover patient privacy.

The biggest safeguard is the exit clause built into every study. “A participant can leave a clinical trial, at any time. When withdrawing from the trial, the participant should let the research team know about it, and the reasons for leaving the study,” according to the NIH.
This policy is mandated for all human research trials by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

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