Do you want to make quick cash and don’t want the hassle of a minimum-wage job? Then joining paid clinical trials may be the best option for you.
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Today, you’ll learn what clinical trials are, why they may be a good source of side cash, and some things to think about before you sign up for your first clinical trial.
You can also read about the details of my experiences with clinical trials, how much I’ve been paid, and the top 3 reputable sources you should consider (plus additional ones) when looking for clinical trials near you.
Things To Know About Clinical Trials
- Inpatient vs. outpatient trials
Inpatient clinical trials require that the subject (meaning you) stay at the facility for the length of the study, sometimes even overnight. Outpatient clinical trials require that the subject appear for the initial screening and trial start and then complete several follow-up visits.
- Control vs. test group
Study participants are categorized into control and test groups. The control group is typically not administered the intervention and usually receives the placebo. Participants may also be recruited for the direct purpose of being part of the control group; for example, a study may need participants who do not have diabetes so that their responses can be compared to those participants who do have diabetes.
- Phase I, II, or III
If the clinical trial involves the development of a new drug or medical procedure, that intervention must pass through a series of tests, or phases, before being approved by the FDA. Phase I trials assess the safety of the intervention relative to placebo. Phase II trials assess intervention efficacy (i.e., does it work). Phase III trials fine-tune intervention dosing and confirm efficacy in a larger number of people.
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How Much Can You Earn for Joining Paid Clinical Trials?
The amount a clinical study pays its participants vary depending on multiple factors, including, but not limited to the following:
- Medical condition studied
- Length of the study
- Phase of the study
- Number of in-person visits required
- Duration of visits
- Inpatient or outpatient studies
- Distance and frequency of travel required
- Number of phone calls or virtual check-ins required
- Effort needed to track daily symptoms and insights in a patient diary
- Number and complexity of examinations required
To give you a better idea, interview-only studies where you’re only required to answer questions and not undergo any medical examinations pay lower than studies that require in-person studies and medical tests.
Generally, Phase I trials pay more than Phase II to IV trials, as Phase I studies demand more time and effort from patients, in terms of longer durations of visits, more detailed symptom tracking, and more sample collections and tests than the latter phases of the study.
The range of payment thus can be between $50 to $500 per day/visit.
Benefits of Paid Clinical Trials
Aside from the money, however, there are some major benefits to participating in clinical trials.
For starters, clinical trials require that the subject undergo a physical examination, often for free.
If it’s been a while since your last physical check-up, this is a good way to find out about your health. Drug trials often require more extensive examinations; you might be required to undergo an EEG, EKG, MRI, or complete blood analysis.
The findings from such normally expensive tests can be invaluable for your personal health.
Assuming you have a condition that is being studied in a clinical trial, that trial can even end up saving your life.
For instance, thousands of cancer patients sign up annually for clinical trials in the hopes that such trials will cure or at least delay their cancer.
However, even if all you have is a simple allergy, it is an annoyance at best and life-threatening at worst. Participating in a clinical trial that attempts to treat your condition can go a long way towards ridding you of this disease.
Finally, there is the humanitarian aspect of participating in clinical trials.
Without human test subjects, many currently successful treatments for HIV and AIDS would not exist.
Likewise, many vaccines on the market today owe their realization to volunteers who willingly underwent testing.
Medicine does not advance without the altruism of human test subjects.
My Personal History With Paid Clinical Trials
Back when I was a struggling graduate student at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), I sought out and participated in a number of clinical trials.
The resource I used to find out about clinical trials was the website ClinicalTrials.gov.
It’s worth mentioning that NIH clinical trials are offered all over the United States and worldwide, not just at its main campus in Bethesda, Maryland.
One of the major clinical trials that I participated in was at the National Institute for Mental Health.
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There, I underwent a series of fMRI scans as the control (or so they told me) in a gambling study.
This trial was actually quite fun because I got to gamble while lying inside of the scanner. If I placed my bets just right, I actually won money in addition to the pay I was making from the study. I made roughly $100 for every hour I spent inside of the fMRI.
By the time my gambling study was done, I’d accumulated roughly $1550, with $50 of that money coming from my winnings from gambling.
After this study closed, I was asked if I wanted to undergo a PET scan for a Parkinson’s disease drug study.
The only hitch here was that the medication was radioactive. I made sure to ask every question I could think of before agreeing to participate in this study.
When I was done, I had $500 in my pocket.
Once I graduated and moved to Madison, I looked up clinical trials at the University of Wisconsin.
I located a Phase III allergy study and qualified for it once a skin prick test confirmed that I had a ragweed allergy.
For the next six months, I took a daily sublingual dose of ragweed extract in order to desensitize my body to ragweed. I also recorded any allergy symptoms that I experienced.
For this study, I was required to show up at the lab once a month and give an update of my condition (which included an annoying pregnancy test every single time).
At each of these follow-up visits, I was paid $75. By the time the study was complete, I was $675 richer and hopefully allergy-free.
A year later, the UW allergy study coordinator informed me that I had previously been assigned to the placebo group.
This meant that I had not been taking the study medication at all. Although this sounded disappointing, it also qualified me to do the allergy study again.
I agreed to a repeat study and by the end of another 6 months had amassed another $675 (and was truly allergy-free. Maybe).
I also signed up for two clinical trials conducted by Covance (now Labcorp), a company that performs thousands of drug trials for pharmaceutical companies and other labs.
Covance pays extremely well for participation in clinical trials; however, the physical criteria for its studies can be difficult to achieve. Also, because the studies pay so well, there is an overabundance of volunteers. Some people actually earn a good living (up to $60,000/year) by participating in Covance trials.
I signed up for a $4,200 HIV drug trial with Covance and spent nearly a day there getting qualified. In the end, the techs didn’t like the results of my EKG very much and disqualified me. I still made $100 for my time, though.
The second time I showed up at Covance, it was for a $1,700 fat absorption drug study.
This time, I probably would’ve physically qualified; however, due to the large turnout of volunteers, a lottery had to be conducted. Needless to say, I didn’t win—though I did make $50 for my time.
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Things to Consider
In the United States, the FDA regulates paid clinical trials through what’s known as its principles of Good Clinical Practice (GCP) that focus on human subject protection (HSP).
However, some clinical trials still manage to slip under the FDA radar and violate basic GCP principles. Protect yourself from undue harm by doing the following:
- Always read the research protocol and ask questions. If there is something in the protocol that you don’t understand, don’t be shy about requesting more information. The study coordinator should know the answers to your questions; if not, he should know who to ask for clarification.
- You have the right to end your participation in the study at any time. If you become uncomfortable continuing with the study, then you have the right to quit it without losing the compensation you have received thus far. Furthermore, a good study coordinator should ask you at every follow-up visit if you wish to continue the study.
- Remember that not all clinical trials are safe. Clinical trials test drugs and therapies whose side effects are still unknown. Some test medications are dissolved in compounds to which you could have an allergy or other reaction. If your gut tells you that a particular study isn’t safe, don’t do it! There are plenty of other paid clinical trials through which you can participate and make money.
Where to Find Paid Clinical Trials
Trials can impact your life severely, so make sure you stick with the most reputable sources.
If you can’t find a clinical trial here, you’re unlikely to find one anywhere.
ClinicalTrials.gov houses the largest database of approved trials around the world, both privately and publicly funded.
As of this posting, there were 357,662 available studies within the database. You can search by symptom, medication, body part, location, etc. Use the search form to find a study that best suits you.
NCI publishes its list of cancer-related approved trials directly on their website.
Those at risk, currently treating cancer, or those in remission are the targets for these trials.
Search by location to get the best list nearest you.
This one requires a little more work.
PhRMA.org publishes its full list of approved pharmaceutical companies. You can click through each member on that list to find available trials.
The list does include location. Your odds of finding an approved clinical trial increase by picking locations nearest you.
As I mentioned above, Labcorp, formerly Covance, executes clinical research studies on behalf of the world’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology organizations.
They conduct over 100 drug trials every year and have been involved in the development of the top 50 drugs currently on the market.
You can search for ongoing and upcoming clinical trials in the US and in the UK.
IQVIA is another clinical research company that performs paid clinical trials for various pharmaceutical and biochemistry organizations.
Their clinical trials are mostly in the US, though, so if you live outside of the US you might want to look elsewhere.
Syneos Health is a company based in Quebec that hosts clinical trials mostly in Montreal and Quebec.
They mostly look for healthy, non-smoking volunteers, except for their Human Abuse Potential studies that require recreational drug users to participate.
A few of their studies pay up to $5,000. What’s more, if you enroll in their database and complete a study, you’ll be eligible for their referral program, which pays $100 for each new participant and $250 for new participants who meet specific enrollment criteria.
Antidote.me has a proprietary Smart Match search engine that makes the process of finding paid clinical trials easier for potential participants.
It involves answering a series of questions, including the medical condition you have, age, gender, and how far you’re willing to travel, and it will show you registered clinical trials and what phases they’re in.
Meridian Clinical Research connects participants to clinical trials to companies and clinical research organizations (CROs).
To find ongoing clinical trials near you, complete the form on their site with your information, and an enrollment specialist with Meridian will contact you so you can review studies that are the right fit for you.
If you yourself aren’t eligible to participate, you can still earn up to $25 for referring someone who is.
Clinical Hero works with various companies and clinics to recruit patients and volunteers for their clinical research studies.
On their search page, you can easily search for clinical studies by location. You can easily see if they need healthy volunteers or those with existing medical conditions, plus if the researcher chooses to display it, you can see how much they pay.
You can also subscribe to their mailing list to get information about paid clinical trials that you might be eligible for.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of paid clinical trials are out there if you know where to look.
Stick with reputable sites as this is your health and well-being on the line.
I recommend checking out our guide on how to get paid to sleep. There are some interesting clinical trials described there, including NASA’s famous paid sleep study.
Have you ever participated in a paid clinical trial? If not, are you planning to? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!