An introduction to paid medical research

Do you want to volunteer to help medical research and get free meals, accommodation and leisure activities whilst getting paid for the privilege? It’s a real possibility if you apply to take part in one of the many clinical trials on offer.

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Gaining approval

Before drugs can legally be prescribed to patients, they must be tested in approved clinical trials. Without volunteers, research will come to a standstill as we need to trial drugs on humans to see how they work and whether there are any adverse reactions. The medicines being studied have been thoroughly tested on animals and are deemed to be safe. An independent ethics committee oversees all the information given out, and a UK government agency checks them to make sure they are as safe as possible.


Each study requires a different demographic. For example, healthy men aged 18 to 45 might fit the bill for a study to cure colds and flu. To be accepted into a study, you must first register and then go through a vigorous medical examination with numerous blood samples. Questions relating to your sexual history, diet, whether you smoke, and what medications you have taken in the past will be asked. If you are eligible, you will be expected to make yourself available at short notice. The trials are held in either a hospital or research centre, where you could be an inpatient for between one and seven weeks.

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The amount you get for paid research studies like those at depends on the length of the trial and the number of tests that you undergo. For example, a four-week asthma drug trial might pay you £3,750. On average, you will earn around £120 to £150 per day, which is quite good considering you are just lounging around and the money is paid immediately after the trial is over.


When you agree to take part in a trial, make sure you read all the documents that are made available to you before signing anything. Remember that you are being paid to give your body over to the clinical trial for experimental purposes. Be totally honest with all your medical history and life habits because anything you hold back could potentially put your life at risk. Be sure to ask yourself what price you would put on your own health.

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