Drug trials: A view from the inside

People often ask me “Why would you risk your life to pay for a holiday!?’

I don’t consider myself as someone who is reckless or in pursuit of danger, but the benefits of taking part in a drug trail far outweigh the risks.

It’s private drugs companies that offer most trails, either to test existing medications whose patents have run out, or to conduct first human studies of a new drug. Without such research, new treatments wouldn’t become available, and studies into diseases like cancer or HIV would grind to a halt.

The stigma associated with human drug trials stems from the few ‘disaster’ studies that led to critical illness, or even death in some cases. Two men were left critically ill in 2006, after a drugs trial run by TeGenero AG rendered them ‘lifeless’ and ‘swollen’. This was the first test on humans, the drug being designed to treat rheumatoid arthritis and leukaemia.

Since then, regulations have tightened so much that the faintest sniff of an adverse reaction causes everything to halt; even if it’s just a sneeze or a poorly recorded ECG.

So for the minute risk of an adverse reaction, and the hope that side effects aren’t too messy, a weekend away including a full medical, Sky TV, good food and comfy bed aren’t to be frowned at, particularly when most trials quadruple the minimum wage per hour.

If anything, its free heating for a poor student- and you don’t have to do the washing up!

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