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The Ultimate Guide to Paid Clinical Trials – Are They Worth it?

Paid Clinical trials Guide

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The Ultimate Guide to Paid Clinical Trials – Are They Worth it?

Losing a leg for science, while noble, isn’t really…advisable. In the light of a global pandemic and plenty of buzz around vaccines as of late, the question of the safety and merit of clinical research is definitely a relevant one.

Every LEGAL drug that you can think of (whether you can pronounce it or not is a different question) has been through clinical trials to ensure its’ safety and efficacy for the mass market. People who volunteer for this type of clinical research make a huge impact on the world of medicine. While getting paid pretty decent amount of money.

There are plenty of clinical trial opportunities available – from clinical research universities and national institutes, to government run studies. In this article, we’ll give you the ultimate guide to clinical trials, and if they are worth pursuing as a side-gig.

What is a Clinical Trial?

A clinical trial is a research study used to test the safety and effectiveness of a new investigational medication, medical treatment, medical device or new way of using known treatments in human volunteers. There are typically four phases in the process of testing, which indicate how ready a trial is for public use.

There are also several different types of clinical trials. Some may be more appealing or relevant to you depending on your health status and even your financial situation. You may also fit the demand for a certain type of study, but you also may not based on what a principal investigator is looking for in their participants.

drug rehab center abstract concept vector illustration.

What kind of clinical trials exist?

We discussed the fact that there are many different types of clinical trials. Here we break down some of the most common types of clinical trials you can consider taking part in.

    • Prevention Trials: most commonly completed with healthy individuals, these trials explore treatment options to prevent contraction of a disease, illness or condition (vaccines are a good example).
    • Treatment Trials: most commonly thought of when referencing drug studies or clinical trials – these generally test new drugs or treatments for a specific or general population.
    • Behavioral Trials: these trials evaluate behavioral changes with regards to a treatment in order to promote general well-being.

Are Clinical Trials Safe?

As referenced above, clinical trials have four phases. Each phase decreases in risk but increases in rigor. Phase 1 is the most experimental phase.

However, it is important to note that before human clinical trials, the proposal likely went through a number of steps and regulations to protect against potentially reckless and harmful practices.

Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a study, they are often tested in laboratories or in a research facility on animals to see if the study is indeed safe and effective. If the results are positive, then the test gets approved for use on human subjects.

The major way that clinical trials are kept safe for human trials is through a monitoring process set in place by the Institutional Review Board (or IRB for short). The IRB makes sure that the risks of any study are low and are far outweighed by the benefits.

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) has to review and approve clinical trials to ensure the safety and privacy of participants. The research process of clinical trials is divided into the different phases mentioned and follows a special protocol.

The IRB is constantly reviewing all of the documents that participants will be reading to make sure that they understand the study and the levels of safety or risk involved in a study. The IRB looks out to make sure the study will not cause any due harm to it’s participants.

Once a study is approved by the IRB, the organizers and researchers of the study must follow a strict protocol. You as a participant will know this protocol and will have time to review it before you decide to opt in or opt out of a given study.

You will also always be monitored for any possible side effects of the study. It is also important to note that you may quit a clinical trial at any time if you no longer feel up to participating. If the study is causing you harm, or a side effect is too much to handle, you can stop the trial at any point along the process.

Once you have been informed of all of this information, you will have to sign an informed consent document agreeing to participate in the study (or giving your consent). Overall, due to these all of these protocols, clinical trials can be considered very safe.

What does the “phase” of a clinical study Mean?

Phase 1 is the earliest form of the study where not much is known about the drug or the procedure being studied. This phase usually pays the most (it can be in the $2000 – $4000 range) due to the uncertainty of the outcomes.

In Phase 1, researchers are generally dose-ranging on healthy volunteers for safety, meaning they are trying varying amounts out to make sure their drug or treatment doesn’t have any major side effects at different dosage levels.

Once Phase 2 begins, researchers start to test the drugs on participants who have the disease or diagnosis that they are attempting to treat with their particular drug or treatment.

They are trying to test for efficacy (or making sure the drug does what it is meant to do) as well as monitor any side effects that may occur for the participants. They want to make sure that just because healthy individuals didn’t have any side effects, doesn’t mean that the selected participants won’t have new side effects, so they are observing the participants for that.

Phase 3 of a clinical trial starts to look at efficacy, effectiveness, and safety. This means they are asking, “does the drug do what it claims it will do, how effectively, and how safe is it to take?”

By Phase 4 of the study, the researchers are just fine tuning their product and it is almost ready for release to the general public and in some cases it is even at post marketing surveillance in the general public. This phase of the study pays out at a much lower rate because it is all much safer by then ($100 – $400).

What is informed consent when it comes to clinical Trial?

An informed consent form will have to be signed before you start any study. When you sign this form, you are acknowledging that you understand the purpose of the study, as well as the benefits and possible risk factors of the study.

Most good clinical trials will educate you about all of the potential risks and benefits of participating in the study, how the study will proceed and the protocol that will be followed, and the patients rights in regards to the study. Once this is all completed, the researchers will ask the study participants to sign the informed consent paperwork.

Paid Clinical Trials

What are some of the benefits of clinical trials?

There are many benefits to participating in clinical trials. Obviously the financial compensation can be a nice little bonus to your wallet. Payouts average approximately $1000 with many opportunities paying out at a rate much higher than that.

Clinical trials can also be a great way to receive free treatment or even a way to obtain low-cost new treatments. If you have a diagnosis but can not afford the treatment or medications, and they are doing a clinical trial on a medication that could potentially help you, then participating in a clinical trial may meet your needs.

Last but certainly not least, you get the personal satisfaction of helping a good cause. Live human participants help advance medical research studies by allowing researchers to try out their inventions, new medications, and recent discoveries. So you will be doing something very helpful in the name of science and possibly even helping graduate students complete their research at national institutes.

What should I avoid when it comes to clinical trial participation?

There are several things to try to avoid when deciding to participate in a clinical trial. Lengthy screening processes should be avoided if possible. Some studies require these screening processes to keep their participants safe, but if they can be avoided it will not only speed up your process, but likely be a safer study as well.

Potential side effects or the use of harmful medical devices that may affect you directly in a negative way should also be avoided. If you have a certain condition or an allergy that the researchers recommend you abstaining from participation, you should likely follow those guidelines.

Finally, you want to try to avoid studies that will require a large investment of time, money, energy. If you have to jump through several hoops and pay some of money out of pocket, you likely want to avoid those studies.

Most studies and focus groups will pay for any of the costs of research being performed. However, there are some occasions where the patient or their insurance company might be asked to cover any routine tests, procedures, or treatments that would be required as a part of any standard plan of care.

Where is a good place to start when looking for clinical trials?

There are many sites that address clinical research and finding current and future studies that addresses a disease or diagnosis that you may have is surprisingly easy. I always recommend starting with the government.

ClinicalTrials.gov is a great website to start with. The U.S. National Institute of Health runs this site and it has a large database of studies. You could search the site very easily by typing in “vertigo (or whatever your diagnosis is)” and “New York” and it would populate a clinical study list of all of the current research studies being performed in New York on vertigo.

Health Canada’s Clinical Trial Database is a great place to start if you are looking for a Canadian clinical trial. regions. It is a public site providing listings of all of the clinical trials available at the time of search.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is another international organization looking for participants in several countries. They are very heavy into Covid-19 studies at present time for obvious reasons.

ResearchMatch.org is another wonderful website that matches you with a clinical study of your choosing. You have to join the site by entering your demographic information, but once you sign-up, you are instantly given access to over 1,000 studies at any given moment.

Finally, CenterWatch.com is a great website where you can search current and future studies they are running and also opt in for their newsletter. This will give you email alerts when new studies are listed, so even if you are not selected for one study, you may soon hear from them via email about another option.

clinical trials 5

What private companies conduct clinical trials?

If the government does not have the kind of study you are looking to participate in, there are plenty of private companies and other groups of researchers with vested interests that are running their own health related clinical trials, studies on medical devices, and new drug clinical trials.

ResearchMatch.org is another wonderful website that matches you with a clinical study of your choosing. You have to join the site by entering your demographic information, but once you sign-up, you are instantly given access to over 1,000 studies at any given moment.

CenterWatch.com is a great website where you can search clinical trials and also opt in for their newsletter. This will give you email alerts when new studies are listed, so even if you are not selected for one study, you may soon hear from them via email about another option while also receiving helpful medical information.

Alta Sciences is a group of physicians that are running research studies based on their areas of expertise. Cardiologists are running heart studies, Bariatric Surgeons are running obesity studies, and Infectious Disease Doctors are studying all sorts of viruses and illnesses.

There are also the major pharmaceutical companies that also cast a worldwide net when searching for clinical trials participants. Pfizer is one of the largest drug companies in the world and they are constantly looking for human subjects to test their new drugs on within their drug clinical trials.

Praxel is rated as one of the top Clinical Research Organizations to work with in the world. They have a huge network and are connected to many varying studies worldwide.

Where can I find paid clinical trials?

Craigslist:
Craigslist as a platform can be a great option for clinical trials IF you know how and where to look! We know a few people who have had great success. Check out our article for an idea of how to vet studies on Craigslist.

College/Universities:
Local universities are also a great place to find studies! Research studies conducted on campus or that are campus-affiliated are typically less risky because they are done purely for research and/or class assignments, rather than actual drug testing.

Search Online:
If you don’t have luck with any of the above options, Reddit and Google are amazing tools. Search phrases that typically have good results are ‘clinical trials near me’ or ‘drug studies in [your city]’ or ‘clinical studies’. The subreddits r/beer money and r/clinical trials and r/clinical studies are great goldmines for active studies, with a good dose of tips and advice as well!

Tips for Safety

Deciding on whether or not to participate in clinical trials is a very personal decision. The decision must weigh several factors: your health, income level, risk tolerance, moral/ethical code, and more.

We recommend going for studies that are low-risk, high-reward, especially if this is your first foray onto the scene. Sleep studies are a good example of this.

At the risk of sounding like a Humira commercial disclaimer, always consult with your doctor before you take on a clinical trial. Your doctor may have insights on current/experimental treatments, and the upside/downsides with your specific case. Also, it never hurts to get a second opinion.

Each country has different regulations, laws, and standard procedures for clinical trials. It is very important that you understand your specific country’s precautions and legislation so you are protected and fully aware of your rights, which is why reading and signing the informed consent form is so important.

No matter your country, this article highlighted some key safety measures and considerations for you to further dive into if you want to pursue clinical trials.

Questions to Consider

Here are some questions that you should ask your doctor, yourself, or the researcher before committing to a clinical trial. Most of these questions should be readily available on the conductor’s website, or via a quick phone call.

When you are reviewing the informed consent for clinical trials, it is a good idea to ask those performing the research some questions to make sure you can make a well informed decision about your participation in the study. You want to be sure you understand everything and anything that can happen to you.

Questions like “what is the purpose of the study?”, “what treatments will be used?”, “what are the potential benefits and risks of the study?”, “will I be paid for my time?”, “how long will the study last?” and “will there by any side effects?” are all good questions to get answered before you agree to participate in the study.

It is also probably a good idea to know “who is the person of contact for this study?” , “what phase is the study in?”, “who is funding this study?”, and “will I be responsible for any out of pocket expenses including travel or lodging?”

Once you have all of your questions answered, if you feel comfortable moving forward with the study, you can sign the consent form. If you start the study and do not feel comfortable at any point in time, it is also important to note you can withdraw from a study at any time.

How much money can I make with Paid Clinical trials?

If you are into side hustles or side-gigs that can generate big money, then medical trials may be right up your alley. Some of these paid clinical trials can pay upwards of thousands of dollars. Much of this depends on how invasive the study is.

Invasive studies generally include some poking and prodding (literally). It can involve needles, injections, or surgeries. These are usually riskier studies but if you are comfortable with the level of risk, they could pay out more.

Non-invasive clinical trials are more along the line of medications, medical supplies, or assistive devices. I was once a participant in study that looked at the use of orthotics (or foot inserts) on jumping and landing. We had to attach some sensors to our body and jump on a force plate a bunch of times. They then gave us custom orthotics to wear for a few weeks and we had to return one time per week for 8 weeks. They retested our jump each week we returned and took measurements based off the sensor.

The study was very non invasive, it caused no harm or damage, and the potential benefits to the participants was actually quite large because we got free custom orthotics to keep once the study finished. Custom orthotics generally cost anywhere from $300 – $800 dollars per set. We were also given compensation for our travel, and paid $100 per visit for a total of $800 for our time in the study alone.

Clinical trials can pay anywhere from $50 – $300 per day that you participate in the study. Your total amount paid will depend on the length of the study and the type of procedure being performed. Studies that require you to stay overnight generally pay more than the day visit studies as well. If you want a better breakdown on how much clinical trials pay read the article here.

It is important to remember that neurological studies, cardiovascular and heart studies, blood disorder studies, studies of the endocrine system, and gastrointestinal system pay the most.

Are clinical trials a good way to make money?

We have outlined the approximate payout ranges for clinical trials. We have also educated you as to the safety and process of what a general clinical trial looks like.

When I was in grad school, I participated in several clinical trials because I was a poor graduate student and I was also young, and felt invincible at the time. For me, at the time, clinical trials were a great way to make money (especially for beer).

Currently, in my much older, wiser, and more financially stable state, it would really depend on the study as to whether it was worth it for me to participate or not. The choice will essentially come down to you and your needs and the level of compensation as to whether or not these clinical trials are worth it.

Why participate in clinical trials?

Clinical trials are a decent way to make money as a side-gig or side hustle. But the monetary value is not the only reason why one should consider participating in a clinical trial.

Getting treatment for a disease or diagnosis you may have could be another enticing benefit. Many of the treatments and drugs that are being tested are cutting edge and newest to market, so you would be getting world class, advance medicine in your treatments for little to no money (or even being paid to receive it).

Finally, being a good Samaritan could factor in to one’s decision to partake in a clinical trial research study. By consenting to be a human subject in a research study, you are helping to advance medicine and the knowledge base of scientific researchers. That could also just make you feel good inside.

What are some things that might disqualify you from participation in a clinical trial?

If you don’t have a certain diagnosis or disease that the researchers are looking for, then you may not qualify for certain studies. This is one potential reason it may take a little while to get accepted into a clinical trial. Researchers may be looking for a very specific type of participant.

You may also not pass the health screening process. If doctors performing the complimentary physical assessment find an underlying health issue that may not be safe for you to participate, that may disqualify you from participating in a study.

Finally, if you have participated in a study recently, within a certain time period, that may also disqualify you. For starters, researchers would not want two possible experimental treatments or drugs to interact or cause interference with each other and their results. Also, they would want your body to clear out any residual effects and there are plenty of other people willing to participate in these studies too (maybe even a family member).

Healthy people can participate too!

But what if you are a healthy person? Can you still partake in a clinical trial? The answer is yes!

Let’s say you have found a clinical study you want to apply for. However, you do not have the specific diagnosis that the study team is looking for. That may not be a problem because many times participants of a study will be required to be healthy.

Once you are accepted for a study, you will have to undergo a health screening. If you are given a clean bill of health, and do not meet the diagnosed eligibility requirements, you may be asked to participate as a healthy volunteer.

Healthy volunteers can often provide health data that can be used in a comparison to the unhealthy or affected group. The information that the researchers gain by testing healthy volunteers can help develop new knowledge, especially in a clinical research study and with the development of new medicines.

Healthy volunteers can help researchers define what it means to be “normal” during their study. They can also be used to match patients with certain characteristics, such as age, gender, or family members relationships when trying to do a comparison study. (I have often heard on many medication commercials “in young and healthy adults…”).

Phase 1 (or the introductory phase of a clinical research study) is a popular phase for healthy volunteers. Their clinical research participation contributes to the experimentation and implementation of safe drug usage and other biologics because they accept the possibility of risks from study participation without anticipated health benefits from the products being investigated. The incidence of serious adverse events is low because they are healthy.

So if you are healthy and are looking to get paid the most in a clinical trial, there are a few options we suggest:

ClinicalTrials.gov is a site that often looks at various types of clinical trial opportunities. At the time of this article they were reporting about 200 different opportunities for both non-paid and paid clinical trials for healthy individuals.

DaVita Clinical Research is another site where you can sign up to their database and start searching for studies that you may qualify for immediately. They had posted over 100 paid for clinical trials at the time of this article as well.

Yale University is an Ivy League college and one of the best research universities in the nation. They are constantly searching for healthy participants in their studies.

Center Watch is another good site that boasts a robust listing of paid clinical trials for healthy individuals. I was able to find 50 clinical trials within a 100 mile radius of where I live.

Last, but certainly not least is drug company Pfizer. Drug companies are constantly looking for people to test their products because they are in the business of treating disease, selling medicines, and saving lives (in no particular order).

What is a Placebo?

A placebo can be defined as harmless pill, medicine, investigational treatment, medical device, inactive substance, or procedure that is given to a patient or a subject for more of a psychological benefit than for a physical effect. The placebo effect is generally used as a control substance so that the principal investigator can test outcomes of a therapeutic effect versus no therapeutic effect in new clinical trials.

A subject is given a pill or a treatment and they are not told if it contains the active treatment or not. This way the clinical trial can determine if it was the real treatment that worked or if it was simply the placebo effect and the psychological aspect of taking something that made the subject think it worked.

What are other options if clinical trials are not for me?

If clinical trials are not really sounding like your forte, there are plenty of less risky options you can pursue. Stan’s Gigs is a place where you can explore all gigs related to things like market research. Check out this article on paid studies online – arguably THE safest (and quickest!) option for studies.

There are many side-gig options that are less risky and still pay quite well. We have put together several articles covering them as well.

Final Thoughts

Clinical trials are definitely worth it as far as money goes. These studies are one of the highest paying study types in the market research industry. However, that compensation may be justified for the potential risk you take on.

Of course, it’s not all scary- many people with serious conditions or illness get treatment that they never would have received otherwise. But the other side is you being afflicted with something undesirable. That’s why informed consent is SO important.

Clinical trials can be a lucrative side-gig. Without human trials, we’d never see any innovative drugs introduced. But – it’s not a decision to be made lightly, even (or perhaps, especially) if you are healthy.

We are all about staying informed and exploring options, let us know your thoughts and experiences with clinical trials in the comments below!

And don’t forget to check out the blog! We have many more exciting articles on the way. If you have a suggestion, drop it down below in the comments section as well because we love to hear from our readers!

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