The first time I heard about being able to get paid of medical trials was when I had just finished my university degree. I was working as a tour guide for the summer trying to earn enough cash to start paying off my student debts.
A few of the people I worked with told me about the fact that they were getting paid lots of money for taking part in paid drug trials at local clinical research centres. When I discovered that it was possible to earn several thousand pounds for each test that you took part in it sounded like a golden opportunity.
I obtained the contact details of the research centres from my friends and requested an application form. I wasn’t expecting to get a whole pack full of forms back and this was a little off putting at first, until I thought about the money that I could be making. There were questions about my health, the medical history of my family and any allergic reactions that I was known to have had as well as a form to provide my consent for the research doctors to contact my family doctor to obtain my medical history. Whilst this might seem like somewhat of an invasion of privacy it is absolutely necessary to ensure the safety of the volunteers by making sure they don’t have any medical conditions that could make it dangerous for them to take part in medical testing.
After filling in all the details required, I returned the forms to the address supplied and wondered how long it would be before I heard anything. Being the impatient young man that I was, I decided to apply to both of the medical research units based near where I lived just in case I got rejected by one or found out that one was better than the other. I got a letter from them after they had been through my forms and processed all of the information. I was being asked to go to the unit for a comprehensive medical check up to make sure I was fit and healthy enough to be a volunteer.
They carried out tests such as lung capacity, ECG (electro-cardio graph), various blood tests to check liver function, cholesterol levels, etc – all to make sure I was in good health. If nothing else, I was getting the kind of health check up that would have cost a few hundred pounds to get done privately and would be very difficult to get hold of on the NHS.
One of the research units rejected me on the basis that my eye pressure was too high. The other unit didn’t even measure this and they accepted me on to their volunteer panel on the basis of my medical results.
Having been accepted I waited eagerly for the details to be sent through of the first trial that I could volunteer for. When it finally arrived, it detailed the drug being tested, the possible side effects, the length of the trial and the number of visits to the clinical research unit that would be required and (of the most interest to me) the financial compensation that would be paid for taking part (let’s face it, no one does these trials out of a desire to further medical science, they do them for the money!).
In addition to having a medical to become eligible to be a volunteer for medical testing you also have to have a medical for each individual drug trial that you want to take part in. The first few times I went for these (after being sent the details of a new medical trial that was taking place) I was rejected based on my existing medical history. After this happened to me a few times, I complained because I felt that it was a waste of my time to go to the screening visits if I was always going to be rejected based on something that was already on my files.
I’m not sure how it happened, whether it was a change in their criteria or something else but I was finally accepted onto my first trial. The first one I did only paid around 600 and involved no overnight stays but it was the first of many that I have done, earning me thousands of pounds over a number of years.
I eventually reapplied to the other research unit as well (I think because I hadn’t heard anything from the one place for a while) and didn’t have any problems with my eye pressure the second time around. By being determined and not giving up I had managed to become a volunteer on the panels of not one but two medical research units against the odds.
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