Health Team

Clinical trial participants can get 'nice little bonus'

Posted February 17, 2010

Sid Jones
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— Even with health insurance, good medical care can be costly. However, there is a way to get medical care where the provider pays you.

You often see ads in the paper or on TV asking people to participate in clinical trials. Some fear they will be used as a guinea pig for unproven drugs or treatments. Others find it's a way to get good, free medical care with a little bit of cash to boot.

Sid Jones has year-round allergies, but he has no health insurance and hadn't seen a doctor since he was a teenager. Then he saw an ad in the paper for a clinical trial with Cary Medical Research.

“(It) had to do with allergies, sinusitis, that sort of thing, and I figured I'd check it out,” he said.

Jones began with a health screening to see if he qualified for the study.

“And they said, ‘Are you taking medications for your blood pressure?’ I said no, and they said, ‘Well, you better,’” Jones said.

After the allergy study, he joined a blood pressure study with a trial medication that brought it under control. Everything was free. In fact, they paid him.

“Time and travel they compensate and sometimes they even give snacks,” he said with a laugh.

Participants are usually paid about $35 per visit. Some trials require more time and procedures, so they pay up to $100 per visit.

“So it’s kind of a nice little bonus,” said clinical trial participant Rebecca Carlson.

Carlson, a registered nurse, says the pay is nice, but her primary reason is professional. She knows how important clinical trials are and how difficult it can be to find willing participants.

“They don't want to do something that's experimental or something that hasn't been proven yet,” she said.

But new drugs in phase two through phase four of trials have already been tested in human subjects, so the risks are relatively low.

“They're still looking for safety data, but primarily looking for efficacy data to see how well the drug works,” said Jennifer Kranz, with Cary Medical Research.

Participants are doing their part for the advancement of medicine as well as their own health and wallet.

Internal medicine physicians work through research sites for things you'd see your primary care doctor for, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis and diabetes. Several specialists are also available for podiatry or dermatology studies.

Once you're in and they have your health information, they're likely to contact you for future studies.

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  • HappyGirl08 Feb 23, 2010

    So he had high bp and rather than see a dr for specific treatment, insurance or not, he signed up for a trial. Which could have just as easily resulted in him not getting medication at all.