What You Should Know Before Participating in a Clinical Trial
Dr. Arthur Caplan, the director of the Penn Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, says that clinical trials are usually safe, but there are some risks you should be aware of.
"There are risks that something could go wrong, but it depends on what you're doing and what degree of research is involved. The more they're paying you, the more your radar should go up. They're paying you more because there's more risk or more pain involved."
Caplan also warns that if something goes wrong, your insurance company often will not cover it.
"You have to read the fine print. The company may say that those costs will be covered by your insurance company. I'm here to tell you they won't. Your insurance company will not pay for any injuries you get serving as a subject in a trial you signed up for."
Caplan says he can see why participating in studies is attractive, especially to people who don't have medical insurance, but he says you can't kid yourself. "Don't think that being seen by clinical trial technicians is a substitute for health care. At the end of the day, these companies are trying to deliver data to the pharmaceutical companies. They are not your doctors."