Philip from Solihull shares his experience from becoming a clinical trial volunteer
As always, it was my wife who spotted the opportunity for me to get paid a little extra whilst I was doing ad hoc consultancy work and “hanging around” at home too much for her liking. So it was with some trepidation that I reached out to Quotient to express an interest in becoming a clinical trial volunteer.
The speed and courtesy of how my online application was dealt with was refreshingly impressive. Within a few days I was sitting in the reception area waiting for my induction which was all very straight forward. A few simple questions and I found myself “active” to apply for studies.
Given my immediate availability, I asked if there were any clinical trials coming up soon. Well, I was introduced to the recruitment team and a very helpful member of staff immediately emailed me that afternoon with 4 studies I might be eligible for.
Some were a couple of days, others a smattering of 2 days over a couple of months and one was 10 days in 1 hit – and the dates for this one worked really well for me.
So, I duly put my name forward for this and after a short set of telephone questions, I was invited to the screening and information session. This was done over 4 hours one morning and the process was simple, logical and reassuring. We were assured the drug had been tested on humans before, and was helping cancer treatments be more targeted and effective. All of a sudden I felt I was actually helping improve a cancer treatment!
I was pleased to meet the study requirements, understood what was expected of me, and was delighted to hear I had been selected for the study. One week later, on a Sunday evening, I packed for my first stay at Quotient. Packing was a lot easier than the usual holiday stresses – simple indoor stuff, ipad, laptop, book and chargers.
On arrival I was shown into the ward where 6 other volunteers were settling into their berths – I had a corner bed with bedside storage and sockets in easy reach. We all kept ourselves busy and the team duly briefed us of the processes. That evening we had bloods taken and an ECG to be sure all was good before dosing day. One of the chaps had a heart rhythm outside the study guidelines – and he had to head home. I can see why a couple of extra volunteers are recruited for each study – stuff happens. The safety of the participants is not compromised.
The living quarters comprised the ward with around 10 beds – but we were only 6 so it was nice and spaced out and a dedicated lounge for us as well as some more communal areas. The lounge had running supply of water, juice and hot water for tea and coffee (decaf), a TV with Sky channels (movies and sports) and 2 Xboxes. There was a daily supply of papers and we had our meals in there too.
Dosing day felt quite hospital like. Lots of staff on duty and great care taken in how we were each dosed. Taking the test medicine involved drinking a small bottle of liquid (the drug) washed down with some water. The test was to see how quickly the drug worked its way out of the body and if there were any side effects (we were told of the expected ones which were the usual headache etc. – by the way none of us suffered any side effects). So the team were capturing what left our bodies (#1s and #2s) and using trace radioactive tagging could tell when our bodies had expelled the drug. All very clever.
In the first 24 hours it was busy with monitoring tests – bloods and ECG taken 3 or 4 times. Day 2 eased off a bit and by day 5 we were down to one set of bloods each morning and that was it. The rest of the days were there to fill as we each wished. Throughout it was only 5 minutes here and there to do the necessary tests and take bloods – hardly an inconvenience.
My cohorts were all very friendly, each seasoned Quotient professionals. “This one will pay for my son’s car” said one of the chaps. We were all there for the extra money – but it was a nice way to “earn” it. WiFi was great and we all managed to do as much work as we each needed to. After that it was binging on Netflix, Sky, iplayer or other TV material, in the lounge or on the ipad. Filling the days became quite easy.
We soon became creatures of habit, salivating at 8.30am, 12.30pm and 6.30pm in readiness for our breakfast, lunch and dinner.
All in all it was a very comfortable experience and at no point did I feel in any way unsafe or uncomfortable. The team were all very attentive and thoughtful (even sorting us blokes out some Valentines Cards in case we had forgotten!). My natural embarrassment soon ebbed away and the way we collected samples and did our thing was all done privately and kept our dignity intact.
An unexpected side effect was, after dry January, another 10 days booze free but this time no caffeine too. I slept really well!! It was also a really relaxing 10 days so I feel physically and mentally recharged. Some may call it a spa break!
An added bonus? My better half and kids were pleased to see me home and I get to look forward to a nice payment in a couple of weeks – I’m sure my wife has already decided what it will be spent on. What’s not to like? I’ll be back.
Thank you Team Quotient.