Some people make thousands of dollars each year by gambling inside an MRI machine, getting tested for allergies or trying out new vaccines.
In many cases, they do this kind of “work” on weekends or around their regular schedules — and it doesn’t require any special skills or education.
What are these lucrative opportunities?
They’re clinical and research trials of new drugs, devices and medical interventions.
Companies run these trials on human test subjects in order to determine the safety and efficacy of their products. Each year thousands of willing human “guinea pigs” undergo some poking, prodding or dosing to help gauge whether these medications or medical procedures work. In exchange, these test subjects are compensated with a good deal of cash.
Here’s what you need to know before signing up — plus six places that offer opportunities to take part in paid medical studies.
Who Can Participate in a Paid Medical Studies?
Most trials study the effect of a medication, device or medical intervention on a particular condition, from acne to high cholesterol to cancer. Even if you don’t have the particular disease or condition that the trial is analyzing, you could still qualify for the study as a control (healthy) subject.
Generally speaking, healthy volunteers should be between 18 and 60 years old with no history of major diseases or medication issues, though on occasion researchers look for healthy children for specific studies.
You may need to undergo preliminary testing to ensure that you don’t react to a particular treatment, and women often must pass a pregnancy test to demonstrate that they’re not pregnant during the study.
How Much Money Can Test Subjects Make?
Clinical trial payouts vary depending on the duration and invasiveness of the procedures — the “ouch factor” plays a big part in your earnings. For example, it’s quite easy to try out a new allergy medication over the course of two months while otherwise going about your life, so you might only earn several hundred bucks.
Consider Which Kinds of Trials Are Right for You
Most clinical trials are divided into Phase I, II or III studies. Phase I studies assess the safety of a particular medical intervention, while Phase II studies investigate the efficacy of the treatment. Phase III studies are typically expanded versions of Phase II protocols and test the experimental treatment on a larger batch of human test subjects.
Keep in mind that while most drugs in Phase I trials have already been pre-qualified through cell culture and animal testing, they have not yet been tested on humans. Therefore, if you’re concerned about suffering any adverse effects from an experimental medication or treatment, be sure to sign up for Phase II and III trials only.
6 Places to Find Paid Medical Trial Opportunities
Here are six places to look for information about clinical and medical trials in the United States and abroad, as well as trial listings:
CenterWatch lists a number of different clinical trials for conditions ranging from acne to narcolepsy to warts, as well as separate categories for studies looking for healthy patients. The trials are conducted at a variety of centers scattered across the U.S.
The Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation offers a free email or regular mail notification service for individuals looking to participate in clinical trials. The site will also send you information on what a typical clinical trial entails and the questions you should ask before participating. CISCRP is a great resource if you’re a clinical trial newbie.
ClinicalTrials.gov is run by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and lists all kinds of national and international clinical trials. Search for studies by type and location or browse studies by condition.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) maintains a detailed database of clinical trials occurring across several states. This database provides information about new investigational drugs, the companies developing them and the centers (e.g., universities and hospitals) conducting the actual trials.
5. Foundations and Associations
Foundations dedicated to particular conditions or diseases often list available clinical trials. For example, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America shares more than 400 clinical trials occurring across the U.S. The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration lists dementia-specific clinical trials currently recruiting participants.
6. Local Universities, Hospitals and Medical Schools
Don’t forget to check out your local medical and educational centers for smaller and less publicized research studies. Often, you’ll find study notifications pinned to a department’s bulletin board or noted on its website.
Halina Zakowicz is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. She participated in many research and clinical trials while surviving as a poor graduate student.