Tag Archives: drug studies

Earning Money by Participating in Drug Studies (Part 2)

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Last week I gave you the first half of everything I know about participating in drug studies for money. Today I’ll tell you the rest.

Blue and Silver StetoscopeIf you’re interested in being a healthy volunteer for a clinical trial, you first have to find a study facility that is recruiting. If you’re willing to travel, you have a better chance of finding a trial to participate in. The following are a few of the clinical trial recruiters I found during my research:

The Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation

is a free service designed to help people find clinical trials that are relevant to their needs. CISCRP staff will work with you to understand your options and our staff will help you find local clinical trials in your community, or as far as you would be comfortable traveling.

ClincalTrails.gov

is a database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world.

PRA Health Sciences has locations in Lenexa, KS (metro Kansas City area) and Salt Lake City, UT.

Johnson County Clin-Trials is located in Lenexa, KS (metro Kansas City area).

Vince & Associates is located in Overland Park, KS (metro Kansas City area).

IQVIA is located in the metro Kansas City area and can be reached via telephone (913-894-5533 or  800-292-5533 [Monday-Friday, 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. CST]) or email (vps.volunteer@IQVIA.com).

The Center for Pharmaceutical Research is located in Kansas City, MO.

PPD has clinical research units in Austin, TX and Las Vegas, NV.

Celerion has locations in Lincoln, NE; Tempe, AZ (metro Phoenix area); and Belfast, Northern Ireland UK .

The University of Arizona Health Sciences recruits healthy volunteers in the Tucson and Phoenix areas.

The Mayo Clinic also recruits healthy volunteers for clinical trials. Most trials seem to be held in Rochester, MN, but I also saw listings for the metro Phoenix, AZ area, Jacksonville, FL, and La Crosse, WI.

Pfizer is seeking healthy volunteers for clinical trails across the United States.

Parexel conducts clinical studies in Baltimore, MD; Los Angels, CA; London, England, and Berlin, Germany.

If I didn’t include a study facility in the area where you are or where you’re planning to be, try putting “clinical trials healthy volunteers” and the big city closest to your desired location in a search engine.

After you find a study facility in the area where you are or an area to which you’re willing to travel, read the listings of upcoming studies carefully to see which ones you qualify for. Don’t waste your time applying for a study if you don’t meet all the qualifications. The requirements are pretty much set in stone, so if (for example) you’re a 26 year-old female who smokes, you’re not going to get into a study for male nonsmokers who are 35-65.

Once you find a study for which you qualify, take a look at how long it lasts. If you can’t sit in one place for more than a week, you might not want to sign up for a three week study. If you have to leave the area on December 19 to get to your mom’s house by Christmas Eve, don’t get into a study that lasts until December 22.

Another thing to check out is how many follow-up visits the trial requires. If you’ll be ready to leave the area soon after the study is over, don’t pick a trial that requires several follow-up visits. The sponsors of most of the studies I participated in withheld the final payment until the completion of the final follow-up visit to ensure volunteers Gray Rotary Telephone on Brown Surfaceactually showed up for the last examination

If you’ve determined you’re a good fit for the study criteria given, you can handle the length of the study, the dates work for you, and you’re ok with the number of follow-up visits required, the next step is to contact a recruiter via telephone or by submitting information online and having a recruiter call you. If you are calling the recruiter, be sure to have the study number handy. If you don’t give the study number and just try to describe the study, you and the recruiter may end up talking about different things.

If there are still openings in the study you are interested in, the recruiter will conduct a phone screening with you. The recruiter will ask you questions about your general health; your medical history; your current and past drug use, including illegal drugs and prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as vitamins and supplements; alcohol use; dietary restrictions, height; weight; and birth control methods, among other things I’ve probably forgotten since the last time I went through a phone screening. If you still qualify to participate after you answer all these (highly personal) questions, the recruiter will set up an appointment for an in-person screening.

The night before your screening visit, you definitely want to drink plenty of water so your blood will flow easily when it’s time for your blood draw. Avoiding fatty and fried foods for several days before your screening will also help with the blood draws. The recruiter should tell you how many days prior to the visit you should avoid alcohol; caffeine; over-the counter medications, vitamins, and supplements; exercise; and specific foods (such as poppy seeds or grapefruit). The recruiter should also tell you if you need to fast before your screening and if you do, what time you should start your fast. Follow these instructions to the letter or you may find yourself disqualified from the study.

Arrive at the screening center before the specified time so you’re not rushing and frazzled. After you sign in, you will be given a lot of paperwork to fill out; some of the questions will be the same as what  the recruiter asked during the phone screening. You will also be given a detailed consent form to read and sign. You should be given the opportunity to ask questions about the clinical trial, and you should have all your questions answered to your satisfaction.

Person Massaging Man While Lying on BedAfter you turn in your paperwork, an onsite recruiter will read over it. If you still qualify for the trial, someone will measure your height and weight and determine your BMI (Body Mass Index). Your vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, respiration rate) will be measured and noted. At some point you will provide a urine sample and have blood drawn. A doctor will examine you to make sure you are healthy.

The waiting game begins when the screening appointment ends. Depending on when you screen, you may have to wait a week or two to find out if you have made it into the study. You may be called back in for a follow-up screening if any of your test results are on the edge of normal, so don’t go too far away from the screening center while you wait for your results.

While you’re going through your screening, it pays to be friendly and polite. The study sponsor screens more people than they need for the trail so they’re sure to have enough participants. If everyone qualifies physically, people will be cut from the study based on other criteria. If all physical aspects are equal, folks who are uncooperative or rude to the staff are more likely to be cut from the study.

If you do make it into the study, you will be called and told when to report to the study facility to check in. At your screening, you will have been given a list of what you are allowed to bring and what items are prohibited. Don’t even bother bringing prohibited items. Your bags will be checked, and any prohibited items will be confiscated. (You’ll get them back when you leave.) Prohibited items in the studies I participated in included food, gum, candy, over-the-counter medications, hygiene products with certain ingredients, and weapons of any kind.

Be sure to get to study facility on time for your check in. Being one minute late can get you cut from the trial. Black and White Blood Pressure Kit

Once you arrive for check in, you’re going to have to fill out a bunch of the same paperwork all over again. Just be patient and fill in the blanks. You’ll be weighed and your vital signs measured. You’ll provide urine and blood samples all over again. A doctor will examine you to make sure all is still well. You’ll go through the screening again because the study sponsor wants to confirm that you aren’t sick and haven’t been smoking or drinking alcohol or ingesting other chemicals you were told not to touch.

If you successfully make it over all these hurdles, you’ll be told you’re in the study, but don’t relax just yet. Each group of participants usually includes a couple of alternates in the event someone turns out to be sick in the morning or chickens out before they take the study medication. You’re not really in until you take the study medication, and even then, if you experience a serious adverse event (“side effect” in common terms) you might be dropped from the study for your own well-being. In my experience, even if participants are dropped from a trail early, they are paid for each night they spent in the study facility.

To be a successful drug study participant, be where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. If you have a blood draw at 9:00, don’t make the study nurse have to drag you away from the activity room for it. If your vitals are to be checked at 23:00 (11pm for folks not accustomed to military time), be at your bedside and ready to go ten minutes prior. You should be given a chronology telling you exactly when every activity of the study will occur. Keep your chronology handy and live by it.

There’s a lot of down time in a drug study, so be prepared to entertain yourself. In the facilities I’ve stayed in, each bed had its own television, so volunteers could spend all day and most of the night (until mandatory lights-out) watching cable TV. Most facilities do have some public access computers, but the speed of the internet connection might be questionable. I always brought my own laptop, plenty of books, supplies for writing and sending letters and materials for making jewelry. Cellphones make it easy to catch up on all the calls you’ve been needing to make.

So that’s it, everything I remember about getting into a drug study. Do you have questions about something I didn’t cover? Just ask in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer.

Some of the information in this post comes from my memory and is correct as far as I recollect. Other information comes from my research on the internet and is correct as far as I can determine. This information is offered as a starting point for your own research, not as the definitive answer to all your questions. Blaize Sun is not responsible for you. Only you are responsible for you.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/blue-and-silver-stetoscope-40568/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/antique-close-up-cord-dial-209695/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-massaging-man-while-lying-on-bed-1321728/, and https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-and-white-blood-pressure-kit-220723/.

Earning Money by Participating in Drug Studies (Part 1)

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100 U.s. Dollar BanknotesWhile I was writing the recent post about places for nomads to find money-making opportunities, I thought about drug studies. Even the longest drug studies only involve a temporary commitment, and they typically offer a good financial reward on the time invested.

While it’s true that I haven’t participated in a drug study in nearly a decade, I’ve participated in several throughout my life. Today I’m going to share my knowledge of drug studies based on my experiences in the early to mid 2000s. Of course, the world of drug studies may have changed since then, so like all of my posts in which I share information, think of this post as a starting point for the research you will do before you decide if being a drug study participant is the right choice for you.

First of all, what do I mean by “drug study”? According to the website of the National Institutes of Health Office of Person Using Black Blood Pressure MonitorExtramural Research, a clinical trial (the more official term for a drug study) is

A research study in which one or more human subjects are prospectively assigned to one or more interventions (which may include placebo or other control) to evaluate the effects of those interventions on health-related biomedical or behavioral outcomes.

(The underlined terms in the above definition are themselves defined on the aforementioned webpage.)

Basically, in a clinical trial the environment is manipulated in some way so the outcome can be studied. The manipulation often occurs in the form of taking a drug, or thinking you’re taking a drug but really taking a placebo.

All of the clinical trials I participated in were for healthy volunteers. The National Institutes of Health Clinical Center webpage for patient recruitment says

[s]omeone with no known significant health problems who participates in research to test a new drug, device, or intervention is a “healthy volunteer” or “Clinical Research Volunteer”.

Macro Photo of Stethoscope and PensYou may be wondering who conducts and pays for clinical trails. According to a MaRS webpage explaining the difference between sponsors and sponsor-investigators,

In the conduct of a clinical trial, a sponsor is an individual, institution, company or organization…that takes the responsibility to initiate, manage or finance the clinical trial,1 but does not actually conduct the investigation.

Apparently a clinical trial can also be conducted by sponsor-investigator, who, the aforementioned website says,

takes on the responsibility as a clinical study sponsor and also conducts or oversees the clinical trial.

As far as I know, all of the studies I participated in had a sponsor (usually a drug company) who hired a private company to conduct the investigation.

Ok, so how healthy does a person have to be to get into a clinical trial? Most study sponsors want participants who don’t smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products. At the very least, study requirements typically prohibit volunteers from using tobacco while participating in the trial. Refraining from alcohol during the study is necessary too. Sponsors also want participants who don’t do drugs, either street drugs, prescription drugs, or over-the-counter medication. I’ve gotten into studies even after I confessed to taking vitamins, but it was with reluctance on the part of the recruiter. Ideally, sponsors want people who don’t drink alcohol, use tobacco products, or take any drugs ever! They also don’t want you if you show up for a screening (more on that later) or check-in with a cold, a headache, or any sort of sickness.

Another aspect of “health” study sponsors are concerned with is weight, or specifically, Body Mass Index (BMI). Study sponsors want volunteers to be in the “normal” range, so they don’t want people who are too “overweight” participating in their trials. In my experience, descriptions of specific studies will include what BMI range is acceptable. I found it helpful to know my BMI so I didn’t waste time applying for studies my BMI would disqualify me for anyway. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website offers a BMI calculator you can use.

Person Standing In Front Of Food TrayStudy sponsors are not too keen on people with special dietary restrictions, whether those restrictions are for health, ethical, or religious reasons. Sponsors believe it’s important for all human subjects in a trial to eat the same foods, so they’re not going to allow a vegetarian or vegan into a study where they plan to feed the participants a typical meat-based diet. I’ve heard that at some study facilities subjects are required to eat everything on their plates at each meal. I’ve never been in a facility like that; every study I participated in allowed me to decide what and how much of what I was given I would eat at any meal. I did witness people in other studies being required to eat everything on their plates.

Study sponsors are also very concerned that study medications not be allowed to affect any fetus. Typically pregnant women are not allowed to participate in clinical trials, and often female volunteers are advised not to get pregnant for some time after the study is over. Because of these concerns, female volunteers are required to be sterile or on an approved method of birth control. Women not on hormonal birth control typically need to use a barrier method with spermicide as their form of birth control in order to be accepted as study participants.

I know I have used the word “volunteer” throughout this post, but don’t worry, human subjects do get paid. (Believe me, I would not take study medication if I weren’t getting some money for my trouble.) According to the 2012 Money Talks News article “7 Things to Know Before You Join a Clinical Trial,”

Your pay depends on the “phase…”Of the four types of trial…Phases I through IV – Phase I is the earliest, when the effects and outcome are least understood…

Early trials are small, but they’re easier to qualify for (healthy adults can participate) and pay more…Later trials are bigger but…usually offer less [money].

Pay rate also depends on the area of medicine..The highest amounts are offered for cardiovascular disease, neurology, endocrine, gastrointestinal, and blood disorder…

(Warning: most of the links in the article just mentioned no longer work.)

In my experience, other factors such as how long the subject is required to stay in the study facility, how many follow-up visits are required, and how many blood draws are involved in the study also help determine how much compensation a volunteer receives for participating in a clinical trial. The most money I ever earned for participating in a drug study was a little over $3,000 for staying 21 nights in the study facility and taking two psychotropic drugs already on the market. The study sponsors wanted to know how the drugs would interact when taken together. Most of the drug studies I participated in paid between between $1,000 and $2,000 dollars for a five to ten night stay.

Yes, that’s right, you typically have to stay in the study facility during the clinical trial. This is not always the case–I’ve participated in a handful of studies where I went home after taking the study medication, then made a predetermined number of follow-up visits in person or checked in via telephone or email–but typically study participants stay in a medical facility for a predetermined number of days. Staying in the facility helps the folks carrying out the trial be sure no one is smoking or drinking alcohol or taking other drugs while on study medication. It also allows for immediate medical attention from a member of the round-the-clock nursing staff if the study medication causes a dangerous adverse effect. For some people, being confined to the study facility was the hardest part of participating in a clinical trial, but I made good use of my time reading, writing letters, and catching up on cheesy television shows.

Not that I’ve given you an overview of how participation in a clinical trial works, you can start considering if it is right for you. But don’t make a decision yet! Next week I’ll give you some ideas of how to find clinical trials to participate in, what to expect during the initial phone screening as well as the in-person screening, and how to prepare for check-in and your stay in the study.

Some of the information in this post comes from my memory and is correct as far as I recollect. Other information comes from my research on the internet and is correct as far as I can determine. This information is offered as a starting point for your own research, not as the definitive answer to all your questions. Blaize Sun is not responsible for you. Only you are responsible for you.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/abundance-achievement-bank-banknotes-534229/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-using-black-blood-pressure-monitor-905874/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/healthy-clinic-doctor-health-42273/ https://pixabay.com/en/no-smoking-logo-symbols-warning-24122/, and https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-standing-in-front-of-food-tray-734542/.