Sunday, January 1, 2017

Clinical Trials: Being a Human Guinea Pig Out of Desperation

      As I watched and actually paid attention to commercials today I got to thinking about clinical trials and being a human guinea pig. The commercials were a real eye opener for me.

     For those who do not know what a clinical trial is, there are companies that perform trials using humans to discover how they react to new drugs. Many of these companies pay rather handsomely to use people as guinea pigs.

     I have been financially down on my luck many times in my adult life, down enough that I turned to the clinical trials for money. Some of them paid as much as $7,000.00. That was a lot of money for me at the time and I did not think of the consequences. I just saw the money and how it would be the difference between eating and starving, paying my bills or losing everything I had.

     Thankfully I did not qualify for the trials I was looking into and I looked into several. I was upset at the time but I found a way to survive. When I signed up for the trials however I did not even consider that by doing the trial I might not be here today to write this. I felt like I had to do something, my kids needed a home and they needed food. I felt if I did not survive the trial they would at least have a home and food, they might not have me but in my desperation to survive that did not matter, as long as they were taken care of. I mean I couldn't do it so what good was I at the time? Yes I was willing to take that risk to provide for my family. I know now that my sons needed me more than the money but I did not see that at the time and was willing to do anything legal to earn money even if it meant jeopardizing my own health and life.

     I wonder how many people go into it with that same desperation that I had. I wonder how many would do it no matter what. I know the clinical trial companies make you sign a contract and they are upfront about the risks but I wonder how many people who agree to enter the trials really care about the risks, I didn't when I was desperate and would have gone through with it regardless of the risk. I needed to survive financially and in that despair my own survival was not an issue.
   
     The side effect list I heard recited about a certain drug while watching the commercial  is what got me to thinking. I can't even remember the medicine but the side effects were long, as they are with most drugs. Some of the side effects were extreme,some were effects that might not show up for a while and one of the side effects was...death. Actually many drug side effects are extreme and include death.

     This got me to thinking about the clinical trials and I wondered if those effects were discovered because someone using the drug because they had the condition it treats died or if these side effects were discovered because someone who needed money desperately died during the trial. I would tend to think the latter because pharmaceutical companies have to list side effects even if only one person experiences them....I would tend to think that in many instances people don't report the effects, they are determined by the human reactions during the clinical trials.

     This post is not meant to criticize the clinical trials, it is to bring attention to the fact that many who sign up for them do it out of desperation, desperation to survive.  I hope the companies really look into the people who sign up, That they know the person is doing it for the "greater good of science."

     Would I look into clinical trials again? I am not sure, it is hard to say what I would do if I became that desperate for money again. I am close right now and even knowing the risk I have considered it a time or two because sometimes financial despair out weighs the odds. I hope however that I do not get to the place where I feel no other way out and if I do get to that point hopefully I do not qualify again. I wonder how many of those who have suffered long term effects or died during a clinical trial have felt so desperate that nothing else mattered except financial survival even when that risk meant they no longer survived?