Saving money is what we get out of bed for. Being *given *money for staying IN bed and doing virtually nothing, on the other hand, makes us so excited that we’re half tempted to do a little dance (though we won’t, because we’re all comfy in bed).
Is there a catch? Well, that depends on your idea of a catch.
The idea of taking part in a medical trial makes many people uncomfortable. Testing drugs, often those that have never before been used on humans, can leave people with images of people being left horribly deformed or growing extra limbs.
If you really look for them, you can find the odd horror story of things going wrong - but it’s important to remind yourself that if such incidents were anything more than incredibly rare anomalies the practice wouldn’t be legal.
First things first - drug testing companies can’t just throw anything down your throat or into your veins. All trials are run in line with European legislation and prior to any tests the pre-screening information has to go before an independent Ethics Committee who will decide whether it is safe.
Who can take part
Most drug trial units focus mainly on Phase I studies. A Phase I study is the earliest stage of a new drug's development, and as a result they normally require healthy adults between 18 and 80 - though occasionally drugs will focus on people of a certain age, or with certain existing illnesses. Before you take part in a trial you will be asked to go through a thorough medical examination to ensure that you are healthy enough.
It is quite possible that you will be asked to stay at a trial unit for up to three weeks (though a few days at a time is usually more common) and as such you will be compensated. How much you are paid will depend on the length of the trial, as well as other inconveniences such as returning for further tests after the initial trial. Daily rates tend to be around £120 - if you are required to stay in a testing unit for a few weeks, payment of up to £4000 is not uncommon.
How to apply
Look up the various companies (of which there are many) online and find out which ones offer tests near to you. Two of the biggest medical trial units are Quintiles and Paraxel. Once you have applied online you will then be contacted to arrange an appointment.
You will be subjected to substances that have never before been tested on humans, and as much as a number of very clever people will have done everything they can to reduce them, there are always risks. The most common side effect is short term ailments such as headaches or other aches and pains that disappear before long. It’s also vital that you trust a medical trial company - you are putting yourself in quite a vulnerable situation so despite the concept of a big pay day you must ensure that you’re comfortable with the situation.
If medical tests aren’t for you, or for some reason you don’t qualify, there are minimal to no risk options. Most universities with psychology departments (or similar) will be looking for students to take part in tests that will rarely involve more than answering a few questions. Often, particularly when carried out by postgraduates, they will have a budget set aside for paying participants - sometimes you’ll be able to register with such schemes, ensuring that when opportunities arise you’ll be first in line. Contact your university's pshychology department for more details.