Despite the rapid advances of the last century, the medical profession still doesn’t know everything about the human body’s response to disease, so it’s vital to continue studying how disease impacts the body and to develop the drugs that will fight disease and prolong life. The way this is done is through medical trials. Every drug must be rigorously tested before being granted a licence. Part of that process is to carry out trials with healthy human volunteers and this is how it works.
1. Applying is Simple
The process of applying for the Volunteer Panel involves a few forms and takes about six weeks. You’ll be invited to a medical screening and once your application is approved, you will be contacted
2. Free MOT
As part of the application process, volunteers receive a thorough medical screening to identify any obvious or underlying problems, prior to being accepted on to the panel, or into a specific trial.
Those participating in a Healthy Volunteer trial are paid an honorarium for between £50 and £2000, depending on the length of their commitment. Travel expenses are also paid. In cases where volunteers leave the trial early, their honorarium is reduced.
4. Second Income
With an opportunity to participate up to four times a year, some people use paid medical trials as a second income.
5. Access to New Drugs for your Condition
If you are invited to participate in a condition specific trial – say, for asthma, or diabetes – you won’t receive payment, but you will have access to new and perhaps better treatment which could bring marked benefits to your condition.
6. Highly Experienced Staff
Trialling new medicines is a long and detailed process conducted by highly trained doctors. Before you agree to a trial, you must give your consent. This happens during or after a Consent Talk, during which potential participants learn about the drug and the process they will undergo. They are also invited to ask questions that may inform their decision. If a volunteer is unsatisfied, they can decline to participate; there is no obligation.
7. State of the Art Facilities
Inventing the drugs that will fight disease tomorrow is a multi-million pound process governed by strict legislation. Organisations such as GSK have invested in the very best facilities in which to conduct their research. Volunteers stay on comfortable wards, with a variety of entertainment facilities and meals cooked to restaurant standards. You can find out more on the benefits of drug trials and well equipped units here at http://volunteers.gsk.co.uk.
8. Watch Science in Action
Most people take the things that make life easier for granted. How often have you thought about how the humble aspirin came to cure your headache? Participating in a drug trial will give you insight in to a small part of that very rigorous and detailed process.
They say it doesn’t exist, but many volunteers feel a sense of pride for participating in something that may benefit people they will never meet.
10. It’s Safe
Clinical trials within the EU are governed by strict legislation. Within the UK an independent Ethics committee must review and approve each proposed clinical trial before it can go ahead. This puts the wellbeing of the volunteers and the validity of the trial at the top of the agenda.
Sally Shaws writes about volunteering for paid clinical trials. You can visit sites like http://volunteers.gsk.co.uk, which offer opportunities and more information on taking part.