Thursday, March 08, 2007

Parexel and Other Stories

A few month ago, 6 young men volunteered to be guinea pigs for Parexel (a German company in Britain) testing new drug before its release into the market. Needless to say, things went wrong, their bodies react, bloated beyond recognition and they were hospitalised in intensive care fighting for thier lives for a few months. One of them, a Kiwi had since been diagnosed with cancer and given 12 months to live.

That story piqued my interest in drug testing for money. Any new drug, before they come into the market has to be tested, for sure. First on mice, then guinea pigs, monkey( if they can find some) and human.
In December, I saw an advertisement for volunteers by a subsidiary of Canterbury Health. The compensation is NZD$2000 for a 4-day inhouse and repeat outpatient visits of 30 minutes each at intervals for the rest of the month. This is for Hepatitis drug testing. Another test is NZD$1200 for a 2-day inhouse and repeat outpatient visits for the resst of the month. This is for bladder control drug. I chose the latter, because it took less time off work.
2 false starts later, with two 2day annual leave taken, I was on reserve for 4-day Hepatitis test. Being on reserve I would get $250, plus the chance for proper 4-day test the next week. More money!

On the day of interview, the doctor, Jenny Butler (she got these huge eyes - wide open, blue of course, friendly and sweet) told me that in pharmacological terms, the drug is an interferon, designed to tell the body to manufacture antibodies to fight Hepatitis.
" Ah so you dont inject a small quantity of Hepatitis virus then?"
" Nope."
Then its easy way of earning money. With an attractive doctor like that... how could I say no?

So she proceed with the interview, asking me mundane question like do I smoke, am I healthy bla bla.

Then she proceeded to do physical check on me, ECG and urine sample (probably to make sure I dont do drugs) and stuff. By Thursday they ring me up to come over on Saturday afternoon.

will continue later... got to go back to work.

here we go.. sneaking off on the computer again.

First night was okay, there was 9 of us, guineapigs, we sat around watch TV, ate at prescribed time, ECG and blood tested. I slept fitfully the first time in months (work nights, 7 nights a week since last August). A nurse woke me up at 1.30am for supper, a mug of chocolate drink, small pottle of tinned sweetened peaches and cheese toasted sandwiches. Then I went back to sleep.

Sunday morning was just sitting around day, I used my time to read Robert Fisk's 'The Great War for Civilization, The conquest of the Middle East" Bought this book about a year ago, never had time to read.
By afternoon, the result of blood test come out, one of the guys had too much white blood cell in his blood sample, so cannot qualify for the test.
So me, the reserve has been co opted to the test. Instead of making $250 for 2 days sitting around, now I have to stay and go all the way to $2000. Now I have to ring my boss at the George asking for 2 more days leave.

Monday is the D-day. A young twenty-something nurse come in, Sarah on the badge. Not bad looking. She took my ECG and blood samples, fussed around me and when the time to inject the drug into my abdomen wall, I pretend to let out a small yelp. That she hurt me.
" Oh sorry! sorry!" she said. And rubbed the point as if to make it feel better.

Later she brought me a hot water bottle wrapped in pillowcase, "This for your hand, keep the blood circulating" she said.

I felt dizzy afterward, fall asleep for an hour. Probably because of those 4 small tubes of blood taken as samples, or it could be the reaction to the drug. I was told to lie down on the bed 4 hours after the dosing.

Rang up Kay after midday (I rang earlier, and left message to daniel that I had to stay another 2 nights) and she would give me sick leave for the next 2 days. Wow, I got paid there at my job, and here at the clinic.

So this is Monday 5th March, in the afternoon, 6 hours after the drug was injected into me, and I am still alive...

post story:

I was discharged yesterday, Wednesday at 11am. Tuesday was just watch TV, read book and sleep day. the food was good. I specify vegetarian. Easy. Everyone else was jealous that vegetarian food is better than their normal food.

1 comment:

Dr Firdaus said...

Good on you Noor Yahaya,
Without people like you, there would not be progress in the world of Medicine. I was one of the coordinator for such a programme a decade ago when I was doing my postdoctoral in London. Yes we do get side-effect on these medication but they are within the therapeutic index, as they are tested on animals many times before they are tested on us.

Anyway, the money is not bad ,but look it also on your contribution on humankind...that is priceless