Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Thousands of people just like me and you participate in clinical research studies every week. There are studies in nearly every state and for healthy volunteers and volunteers with preexisting medical conditions.
Is volunteering for clinical research safe?
In general, yes it is safe. There is the chance that you can get side-effects but you can greatly reduce your odds by being honest about any medical conditions you have. Also, it is important to be honest about drugs, illegal or prescription drugs, that you have taken recently. But even healthy people with no medical problems can have side-effects, even severe. This is of course why clinical studies are conducted. Bottom line, don’t hesitate to tell a clinic staff member if you are feeling anything but normal. You won’t get in trouble for reporting side-effects! In fact, doctors can prescribe drugs with certain side-effects for other uses. A drug that cause drowsiness may be prescribed as a sleep-aid.
It depends on how many studies you complete and how much each study pays. If you do a 14 to 30 day study with a minimum of 30 days off between, then you can theoretically do 6 to 7 studies a year. Again, you must take at least 30 days off between studies. This is a mandatory washout period designated to allow you to completely excrete the study drug and rebuild your blood supply. So, to answer the question, $18,000 to $28,000 a year is about average for people who only do studies for a living. Of course, there are no guarantees about how much you can make in a year.
How can I increase my chances of being selected for a study?
Most studies enroll based on study specific criteria, then by the order subjects complete the screening process. So what this usually means is that out of the subjects that qualify for the study, the subjects who screened first and completed all requirements of the screening, will have the best shot of being selected for the study. Certain clinics may also give priority to subjects who have been backups in previous studies but were not used.
1. Take the earliest possible screening
2. If there are additional screening visits like a physical, take the earliest dates.
3. If you need to go back for a repeat blood draw or other test, try to go back as soon as possible. Your screening process is not complete until you do your repeat.
4. Be on time to all screenings and check ins. If you are late, especially to check in, you risk losing your spot.
In the end, it is up to the study doctor and the sponsor to decide who makes it in and who does not.
Do I have to pay taxes?
All clinics are required to report your earnings if you make more than $600 at that clinic in a year. It is considered income and you must report it on your tax returns. You will fill out a W-9 form usually at check-in. At the end of the year, each clinic you participated in a study at will send you a 1099 miscellaneous income form, similar to a W2. You use this form to file your taxes. You should save all your receipts for travel, gas, hotels related to doing a study. These expenses may be tax deductible.
Why are some clinics more strict than others? IE some make you eat all your food and others are tough on vital signs or ecg’s.
The requirements and parameters of a study are not determined by the clinic. They are outlined by the sponsor (drug company), depending on the requirements and objectives of the study.
The amount of people a clinic screens for a study will depend on several factors. For the most part, clinics will screen on a 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 ratio. That means for every position they need to fill, including backups, they will screen 3 to 4 people. So basically 1 in 3 or 4 people who screen will qualify for the study. Not only that, a small percentage of the people scheduled to screen cancel or don’t show up. Another small percentage will be disqualified for not meeting study requirements. There will be certain studies that have tougher or unusual requirements which require screening more people as few people qualify after screening.
I have never done a study. What is it really like?
The first study for most people is a turning point. You will either love or hate it. And whether you love it or hate it, right then and there you’ll pretty much decide that you’ll never do another study again or you’ll clear all your plans for the year and plan on doing studies. With that said, the first time is just like your first time starting a new job, first time at a new school or the first time returning something to Wal-Mart. You’ll be excited at the prospect of making lots of money in a short time. You’ll be terrified of the blood draws and the idea of taking an experimental drug. You’ll meet lots of new people. Some like you, doing their first. Some like me, doing their 26th study. And others on their 2nd or their 50th. Once you get used to the schedule of procedures, everything falls into place and by the end of the study, you’ll know if doing studies is for you or not. Either way, medical science benefits whether you do 1 study or 100 studies. I liken it to summer camp, except you get stabbed in the arm every 15 minutes. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, it’ll be the best of times, it’ll be the worst of times.
So, basically it’s like this. You check in a day or two before the first dose. You hang out, watch TV, swap stories with the other volunteers. On the first dosing day, you’ll find out if you make it into the study. If you dose, then everything is all good. If you don’t dose, then try again, maybe you’ll get a better study. Once you are in the study, you will have at least one day where you will have multiple blood draws, like 10 to 16 or more. Then the rest of the time, you just lounge around. Sleep, watch TV, surf the internet, play games with other subjects. Once the study is over, you leave, knowing you’ve made a small difference in the world and eventually you will get a payment for your time.
Is this site ran by a clinic? Where does the information come from?
This site is owned and operated by a volunteer. The majority of the information comes from the clinic’s web pages while the rest comes from personal experiences or from other volunteers. Some information is forwarded by clinics, mainly to correct information already on this site. The travel information is complied by myself and is deemed ‘pretty accurate’. I try to do a complete update of all the clinics and travel information twice a year. Minor updates are made as needed. The difference between this site and others like it is that I do studies right along side everyone else. I’ll usually make myself known as I like to gather more information whenever possible and what better source than the people who do this stuff everyday.
I’ve noticed that most clinics have offices all over the country and the world. Do all locations conduct studies?
No. Most research companies only have one to several clinics that actually conduct studies. The rest of the locations are administrative and pharmaceutical company liaison offices. There are additional locations such as animal testing, laboratories and research.
What kind of drugs are tested?
Nearly every prescription drug and most over-the-counter drugs are tested by volunteers in all Phases. Everything from headache relievers to HIV treatments to cholesterol lowering medications. Also, drugs that are available in foreign countries must past certain tests before being sold in the US.
Are you concerned at all about taking experimental drugs?
Yes, I do read the informed consent forms before I sign up. Not only that, these research studies are monitored at every level. There are paramedics on duty, doctors on call and the option to discontinue the study at any time. While adverse side effects may be uncomfortable, they are necessary to see how drugs work and what new applications they can be used for.