Enrollment and Trial Sites
Professional guinea pigs look for locations that have televisions, video games and wireless Internet access. One Philadelphia veteran had a $1500 payoff for three days at a university hospital and two endoscopies in a hotel-like environment. But there are also historical tragedies such as with a Miami-Dade County facility that, in May of 2006, was cited for health violations and ethically dubious conditions and cost the firm, SFBC International, millions of dollars in a class action law suit. The downtrodden neighborhood it was held in housed six hundred and seventy-five beds holding many illegal immigrants, eight subjects to a room.
FDA regulations require that any study in support of a new drug be approved by an IRB, an institutional review board. But with big money to shepherd in new drugs comes big attempts at corruption and payoffs. The Office for Human Research Protections in the Department of Health and Human Services has jurisdiction only over research funded by the department.
Enrollment: At enrollment recruiters are supposed to review and ask subjects to sign various documents but if they have a financial incentive to provide people, they push through anyone. Oftentimes when a serial guinea pig wants in on a trial, they will not admit to having recently taken other drugs. Mostly, the motivation for doing studies is purely financial in many aspects, and there are also extra financial incentives for the study participants to stay in and complete the trial. With no one having altruistic feelings about the work, healthy volunteers juggle the risks against the payoff and the ethical question remains: what happens when everyone involved sees it as a money-making enterprise?