Human Guinea Pigs on the Rise as Economy Worsens

Tuesday, 20 Sep 2011 05:19 AM

By Greg McDonald

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An increasing number of Americans forced out of work by the faltering economy are turning themselves into human guinea pigs by joining clinical trials and experiments to make ends meet, according to a report in the Boston Herald.
One medical recruiting firm told the newspaper last week that its registrations had increased 35 percent nationwide between 2007, when the last recession began, and 2010 when unemployment in some parts of the country reached 10 percent.
A spokesman for the recruiting firm, Acurian, said the company registry of volunteers has increased from s more than 50 million in 2008 to more than 65 million now.
The volunteers take part in everything from new drug and cosmetic trials to sleep experiments, and many do it without much concern for health risks.
In fact more and more people are treating the volunteer work as a profession of sorts: They participate in a lot of trials and have become fairly good at picking the ones that pay more than others.
Some volunteers even travel around the country, staying for extended periods of time in areas where an abundance of medical facilities or research institutions makes finding work as a volunteer a lot easier.
“The industry couldn’t function with people doing one trial and quitting. That’s why they rely on — and encourage — professionalization,” Robert Abadie, author of “The Professional Guinea Pig,” told the Herald.

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