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Easy College Cash: Clinical trials for pay

March 8, 2012

A lot of people I knew in college participated in paid clinical trials for medications that were going through the FDA approval process.  From a grown-up California-ized yuppie/hippy perspective… this seems almost crazy. People would take drugs that they didn’t need in exchange for money? They would get their blood drawn & numbers analyzed, just to get paid? They would participate in medical studies… for money?

I never did it. It had nothing to do with alarm bells sounding in my head about unnecessary drugs. I don’t mind needles (I kind of like giving blood), and I don’t remember being concerned about any effects.  Rather, it was just one of those things I never was motivated enough to get around to trying to do. They usually wanted males, or you had to go in really early in the morning for blood draws, or whatever. There was always some level of “meh, not worth it” in my mind.  (Oh, I remember why – females couldn’t be on birth control, which I typically was.)

Still, I remember how much sense it seemed to make back then when my friends talked about it. My college boyfriend did, and all of his roommates. Both of my sisters did studies. It was a really normal thing for people I knew to be doing.

Why? It was good money for a student. For example, I just checked the website and you can sign up for a two weekend study (Friday afternoon – Monday morning) for $1,500. Working minimum wage jobs, I couldn’t make that much in a month. I probably didn’t make that much in several months when I had to split my time betweens school & work!  This was the argument I heard over and over – you just couldn’t make as much at “normal” jobs available to college students.

It’s really strange to think about now. In my current privlidged life, I would never spend two weekends in a medical  facility & take an unnecesary drug for $1500. I wouldn’t consider it for a minute. Are they taking advantage of young and broke students in a somewhat rural area?  At the same time, I remember how big of an impact those cash infusions had on students who didn’t have the time/desire to work retail or waitress. I have to admit, my time would have been more efficiently spent in a medical facility studying (and occasionaly getting pricked) than running pasta and wine at a chain Italian restaurant. It’s an effective way to make money, the research needs to be done, and the risks are quite low.

Whenever this pops into my head, I feel conflicted. So, I’m curious. Have you ever done anything like this? Do you know anyone that has? What would you think if someone you knew said they were about to participate in one of these studies?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2012 5:50 am

    I never did because all things medical make me squirmy. But one of my roommates did. Being able to do some trials and studies let her quit a summer job that was truly awful and gave her a bit of time to find another job. She would set off in the morning for the building where all of the trials took place in the deep dark basement. For her the grocery gift cards and cash that she got made a huge difference.

  2. March 8, 2012 6:24 am

    My friend’s dad is the CEO at a couple of clinical study practices in my city. So I have a lot of friends who have done this. It pays decent money (around $2K for around 4 or 5 overnight stays.

    I however would never do this. My bf has done this and he said it was horrible.

  3. March 8, 2012 6:44 am

    My friend used to do clinical trials and she loved it, but I could never do it!

  4. March 8, 2012 8:09 am

    I wouldn’t. I’m really not comfortable with taking any medication unnecessarily. I don’t believe in hurting your body that way.

    That said, I did participate in some funny psychological studies for $25 or whatever for an hour. They were really random — like you would play memory or try to estimate the size of food portions, and then they would weigh you to see if your estimation is correlated to your BMI. It was easy money and I didn’t have to take any drugs.

  5. March 8, 2012 11:12 am

    My college friend recently told me about the things kids at our college did…like hormone stuff and donating eggs. I was quite shocked by it all, but apparently doing all that allowed some of those girls to pay for their full tuition! I never knew about it, guess I lived in a bubble.

  6. March 8, 2012 5:16 pm

    I’d totally take part if the money was right.

    I’ve done market research where they hook you up to electrodes and monitor your brain reactions to ads, but that’s about it.

    T once did a trial where they gave him some kind of uppity drug and monitored his brain activity. He was super hyper for a while afterwards and went to a poker game with friends after and lost all the money he bet (thankfully not much).

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