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Being a lab rat for phase I trials for extended-release versions of drugs that are already well-known - a potential windfall financial opportunity for rationalists?

7 Post author: InquilineKea 23 June 2011 12:12AM

This is one of the cases where better information (which we can easily get as rationalists) can really pay off. I got paid over $500 to test Concerta, which is basically the extended-release version of Ritalin (and it was one of the last stages too, even after it got FDA-approved). And Ritalin's effects are already very well-known.

Many people are systematically prone to overestimating the risks from drugs (due to an intrinsic resistance to anything "unnatural"), especially since they don't do any research into them. Now, certainly, there is *some* chance that Phase I drugs could end up as disasters - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TGN1412 foremost among them. And there's also a chance that you could end up with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosiglitazone (but then, if you're only taking it for a few weeks, there probably won't be any permanent damage).

But these are still the exceptions rather than the norm, and you're still probably more likely to die from a car accident. Furthermore, these types of things aren't going to happen to extended release forms (and the FDA still somehow requires stringent testing for new extended release forms of drugs). Some of us rationalists excel at doing research, and can easily estimate the risks of most drugs (and go straight into the journal papers to see relative ratios and LD50s [and the dose required to cause severe side effects in any human, which is usually much higher than the normal dose]). Furthermore, in the new era of genomic sequencing, we may even be able to better predict how our body will respond to these drugs (for example, we can see which receptors we're over-sensitive too, and which ones we're not so oversensitive to, as well as our expression of Cytochrome p450 enzymes). So maybe this is a potential windfall for some of us? 

Especially in the future, since we're in the age where we are rapidly learning about biological networks?

==

Even then, it doesn't have to be Phase I.

With that all being said, it's probably wise to avoid getting too many blood draws from the same vein

Comments (7)

Comment author: STL 23 June 2011 04:44:12AM 9 points [-]

How many hours of your time did it consume?

Comment author: InquilineKea 23 June 2011 06:48:23PM 2 points [-]

Not many at all. Probably 1-2 hours a week for 8 weeks. Paychecks were 50 dollars for each week (I also got paychecks for the intake sessions as well). And much of the time is waiting time too, which I don't count as wasted time because I can always read during the waiting time.

Comment author: beriukay 23 June 2011 03:19:10PM 5 points [-]

Would you mind describing how one can get involved in something like that?

Comment author: InquilineKea 23 June 2011 06:53:13PM *  4 points [-]

The one important thing is to look at all the universities that are closest to you (try to google your university + clinical trials). I know that MIT has a special mailing list for brain research subjects, for example (many of them pay really well and are effectively zero-risk). My university has http://www.washington.edu/healthresearch/ .

Also, maybe email your local university's psychology department. They have some people who regularly do psychology trials.

http://clinicaltrials.gov/ is a good list as well, although I can't find anything there. if you live in the BosWash metroplex, though, you can find numerous studies on it.

Here's some good information:

http://www.guineapigzero.com/

and also http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2008/01/18/human-guinea-pigs-go-pro-at-a-cost/

If you live near a drug company that does Phase I testing - then you might be able to find the clinical trials that really pay the most. I'm not familiar with these companies though (not living near one), but I'll try to find some resources later if I can.

Comment author: Nick_Tarleton 23 June 2011 07:08:25PM 1 point [-]

How frequently would it be feasible to do this, and how much time would it take to continually find opportunities to do so?

Comment author: InquilineKea 23 June 2011 08:38:57PM 1 point [-]

Hm, well, you could do multiple studies if you're not taking any drugs. But you probably can only do one drug-study at a time

As for finding opportunities, it depends. If you find the right RSS feeds and websites, then hardly any time at all. But actively searching for them is harder. It's sort of like you have a fixed investment cost, but after the initial investment, the time spent searching will significantly decrease

Comment author: ChristianKl 19 July 2011 06:23:09PM 0 points [-]

No, you can't estimate the relative risks of a drug. If you could accurately estimate the effects of a drug before it went into clinical trials you wouldn't need the clinical trials. Over 90% of the stuff doesn't work the way the drug company intends it to work. [quote]Especially in the future, since we're in the age where we are rapidly learning about biological networks? [/quote]We are in an age where we don't have a clue about the purpose of a double digit percent of our genes.

We are in an age where computer based chemical/drug interaction prediction doesn't give you all interactions.