Earning money with your body (SFW)

by Said Goku

Sorry about the clickbaity title, but making money with your body really is the subject of this article. We want to talk about a special way to earn some extra money: Participating in drug research.

To be clear: we do not want to persuade anyone, we have no interest in the pharmaceutical industry and we are (unfortunately!) not sponsored. Participation in such a study will also not be possible or desirable for everyone for various reasons. This is even true for me because being married with a full-time job and kids, the only medicine I need is asperin and sleep.

Why we still want to discuss it is because for many it is a possibility, but they are either unfamiliar with it or have a negative image of it. We wrote somewhat of a Wikipedia page of information for you and even then it is not complete. That is why in a next article we are going to talk about the experiences of a good friend of ours who recently participated in a drug trial.

What does drug research entail

In a drug trial, drugs are tested before they are marketed. During the study, the participants will be given a low dose of a new drug. This allows the researchers to detect any side effects. As you may expect, there are very strict rules for testing drugs in humans. All drug studies in the Netherlands are first reviewed by the Medical Ethical Review Committee. They ensure that new drugs are only administered to humans if they have already been extensively tested and found safe for the next phase of research. You will be inspected once or twice to see if you are suitable for the specific examination. If you are invited to participate, you usually have a short or long stay in the clinic. There your health is monitored and there are nurses and doctors on the ward 24/7. It is, of course, in their self-interest to let you leave as healthy as you entered!

Reasons to participate

Contributing to the development of a drug for Alzheimer’s, for example, is of course very noble. Our motives are less altruistic: If you participate in a drug trial, you get a nice fee in return. It is not unimportant to mention that the obligations during your stay can be easily combined with studying or working remotely.

And as the last reason; have you always wanted to know how healthy you are? Then this is a way to not only find that out but even get paid to do some tests to find out what your current health status is. For the research and your own safety, various tests and measurements are taken.

Figures to scare you?

In the Netherlands, 1,800 medical research took place in 2016 with 265,000 participants, one-third of which is part consisted of drug research. In the same year, 782 people died while participating in a medical investigation and 5,000 participants who experienced a “serious adverse event”. Wait what? Why is it not in every newspaper and do you want me dead instead of retired early!?

Well, if you’ve recovered from the shock: those high numbers are because of strict rules. Investigators must report all and every incident. A test subject ends up in a hospital after a traffic accident? Mandatory reporting. A seriously ill patient who dies and also happens to be a participant in a medical examination? Must be registered, even if the death is unrelated to the investigation.

Realistic risks

Flying is the safest form of transport, but sometimes a plane crashes. And despite all the statistics about safety, you will not easily get into a Boeing with a fear of flying. Obviously, drug testing is not without risks. In 2014, a healthy subject died after testing a new pain medicine in France and 5 others had serious and lasting side effects. With the current discussion about the Astra Zenica corona vaccine, among other things, a health risk is not something to cover up. As with your investments, it’s up to each person what choice and risk you feel comfortable with. Just do this based on your own research even if nothing scares you.

Show me the money

  • The compensation usually is between € 121 and € 227 per day.
  • In addition, your travel costs to and from the research center will be reimbursed with € 0.19 per km.
  • The compensation is a gross amount. That means that you still have to pay tax on it. You can report this when doing your tax as “income from other work”.
  • The compensation does not depend on the risk you run. It’s based on how intensive the examinations are and how much time you spend.
  • You will come across studies from €500 to €10,000 depending on the length of the study. You need 2 days for the first on; for the second it’s 30 consecutive days and a couple single morning visits for a few weeks.

Well, this was another wall of text. Next time we will dive into the experience of a good friend that participated in such a study. Do you have any questions or comments? Let us know by leaving a comment!

If you are curious, then here are some clinics and their (Dutch only) FAQ page:

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