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Serial guinea pigs sniff out cash in clinical trials

Joe from Cambridge didn’t worry about the side effects of a drug designed for women with osteoporosis when he took it for a recent clinical trial, one of 60 trials he’s done in five years.

Joe from Cambridge didn’t worry about the side effects of a drug designed for women with osteoporosis when he took it for a recent clinical trial, one of 60 trials he’s done in five years.

“I’ve never had anything bad happen to me, doesn’t mean it couldn’t,” said the 70-year-old who declined to give his last name. “It seems like the researchers are pretty good when they follow you.”

With its world-renowned hospitals, Boston is one of the best places on earth to offer yourself to science, while you’re still on earth that is. And studies can pay anywhere from $300 to $2,500 for trials ranging from one day to three years.

“Generally people don’t do it for a living but some people jump from study to study, especially in a tough economy,” said Director for Clinical Research at Boston Medical Center, Rich Eder.

But while some serial guinea pigs are only out for money, Eder said studies require full commitment and understanding of the responsibilities of all parties.

“Participants have to really want to participate,” he said. “It’s hard to make them show up. And if they do a diary you don’t know if they are being honest, which can screw up a study.”

Eder also said participants go through a thorough consent process. Safety is the top concern and new drugs are only tested in small doses.

Jane Roberson said she will only do trials that give drugs she’s familiar with.

“There are some studies where you’re basically a guinea pig, taking different meds,” Roberson said.

 
 
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