It can be a risky undertaking, so what prompts so many students to volunteer for medical trials?
Student loans will only stretch so far, and with tuition fees on top of living costs, many students find themselves in need of a supplementary income stream. However, there are only so many part-time jobs available, and working too many hours can drastically cut into study time. This might help to explain why taking part in medical trials is becoming a popular option.
Pros and cons
With pharmaceutical companies desperate for volunteers and students desperate for earnings, it could be seen as a match made in heaven – a 30-day trial can pay out around £4000, for example. Paid Medical Trials found at companies like trials4us have a great selection process to choose who would benefit the most and who has more chance of showing side effects. Perks such as travel, accommodation, medical insurance, and, of course, possible health benefits from the drug that’s being trialled, can also make it seem like a tempting prospect. Then, of course, there’s the prospect of playing one’s part in scientific developments that will hopefully benefit society as a whole.
However, the reality is a little less straightforward. Inconveniences such as dietary and lifestyle restrictions, plus, of course, the hassle of having to attend regular check-ups, can be more of a negative factor than the possible side effects of the drug test itself.
Checks and balances
Drug companies have a duty of care towards test subjects. All drugs put forward for clinical trial will have been vetted beforehand by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) and an independent ethics committee. Test subjects’ rights are protected by an independent review board, whose aim is to protect them from potential serious physical or psychological harm. A contract research organization is often used to help administer the trial.
Acceptance is conditional upon a lengthy medical screening procedure. The potential test subject will be told exactly what the trial entails and must sign to confirm that they know what they are volunteering for and accept the risks involved, however small.
Look before you leap
Testing out any new drug is, by definition, a process which carries some risk with it, and as such, participating in trials is not a decision to take lightly. As with any potential money-making opportunity, careful thought and consideration should accompany the decision on whether to go ahead.