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Making Money With Paid Clinical Trials In Singapore

I have attended two paid clinical trials in 2020 and 2021 and I would like to share what would one expect when they attend a Clinical Trial. My purpose in taking part is for the money and to obtain an additional source of income.

During the briefing session, I was told that I am unable to share anything of the clinical trial as all of the information is confidential.

This post will be quite general, without me going into specifics as I do not want to get sued.

Your experience might vary depending on the clinical trial provider and the study itself.

What is a Clinical Trial?

When a sponsor company wants to find out more about a certain drug, procedure or behaviour, they will commission a clinical trial research centre (CTRC) to create an experiment to find out more.

Clinical trials can be performed on either healthy individuals and individuals with conditions.

For the case of this post, I will only be touching on clinical trials for healthy individuals.

How To Sign Up?

Here are a few CTRCs that I found online

During the signup, you will need to fill in some personal and contact information.

Once signed up, they might contact you to confirm some personal information and then you will be on their list. You will be notified when there is a suitable study.

What Should You Expect When Participating In A Paid Clinical Trial?

A brief schedule that an individual would go through would be

  1. Phone Screening
  2. General Screening (Optional)
  3. Study Screening
  4. Inpatient Stay
  5. Outpatient Visit

Paid Clinical Trial Payment Breakdown

Depending on the duration, type of study and clinical trial research centre, you can expect about S$1,000 – S$3,000 per clinical trial attended. Do also take note that this income is taxable.

General/Phone Screening – S$80

Study Screening – S$80

Inpatient Stay [4D3N] – S$600 (S$200 x 3)

Outpatient Visits [4 Visits] – S$320 (S$80 x 4)

Total: S$1,080

Payment can take from 0 – 3 months from the discharge date to be received. I received one payment on the last outpatient date and one payment about 90 days after the last out patient date.

Clinical Trial – Phone Screening

The CTRC might set up an appointment with you to go through a phone screening or they will just call you without an appointment.

What To Expect During The Clinical Trial – Phone Screening

The CTRC will call you to ask you for more personal and health information to determine your suitability as a volunteer or for the study.

What To Prepare

  • Nothing

List Of Procedures That You Might Go Through 

  • Personal information confirmation
  • 1-on-1 interview on medical history with screener

Duration

15 Minutes

Expected Payment

S$0 – S$80

You might not be paid for the phone screening.

My experience is that I was paid for one of the phone screening and wasn’t for the other.

Clinical Trial – General Screening (Optional)

The CTRC will contact you via phone or email to arrange for you to attend the general screening. Once confirmed, they will send you a confirmation email with the timing, location and specific instructions to follow.

What To Expect During The Clinical Trial – General Screening

This general screening is to perform a more detailed profiling of you so they can notify you when there is a suitable study. Some CTRCs might go straight to a study screening after a phone screening.

During the 1-on-1 interview with the doctor, you can ask any questions regarding participating in a clinical trial.

What To Prepare

  • Identification card
  • Follow instructions in the email confirmation (e.g. fasting, no alcohol, no vigorous exercise etc)

List Of Procedures That You Might Go Through 

  • Personal information confirmation
  • Sign PDPA form
  • 1-on-1 interview on detailed medical history with a doctor
  • Urine test
  • Height and weight (BMI)
  • ECG
  • Blood pressure test
  • Blood test
  • Physical examination

Duration

Approximately 2 hours

Expected Payment

S$70 – S$80

Clinical Trial – Study Screening

The CTRC will contact you via phone or email to let you know of the different studies available. If you are interested in a specific study, you will reply to the email to notify them of your interest.

They will contact you if you are shortlisted for the study. Once confirmed, they will send you a confirmation email with the timing, location and specific instructions to follow.

What To Expect During The Clinical Trial – Study Screening

This screening is study-specific where they will let you know more about the study and they will perform tests to confirm that you are suitable for the study. They will also let you know if there are any special instructions relating to the study like avoiding certain foods.

It is similar to the general screening except that they will do a page by page briefing on the specific study and its risks.

There will be a doctor to answer questions you might have about the study during the group briefing and during the private interview.

What To Prepare

  • Identification card
  • Follow instructions in the email confirmation (e.g. fasting, no alcohol, no vigorous exercise etc)

List Of Procedures That You Might Go Through 

  • Personal information confirmation
  • Sign PDPA form
  • Briefing on the specific study by a doctor
  • 1-on-1 interview on detailed medical history with a doctor
  • Urine test
  • Height and weight (BMI)
  • ECG
  • Blood pressure test
  • Blood test
  • Physical examination

Duration

Approximately 3 hours

Expected Payment

S$70 – S$80

Clinical Trial – Inpatient Stay

You will need to clear your schedule so that you can attend the inpatient stay. The CTRC will provide different dates for you to choose which one fits your schedule best.

The inpatient stay means that you will stay overnight at the facility while you undergo the clinical trial. You will not be able to leave the facility before the inpatient period ends. The number of inpatient days can range from 1 to 10 or even more depending on the study.

What To Expect During The Clinical Trial – Inpatient Stay

Depending on the study specifications, the facilitators will perform tests to see how you react to certain drugs, procedures or behaviours.

Cannula example

Source: WikiMedia

A cannula might be inserted on your arm for a blood draw if they require multiple drawing for blood. A cannula is an attachment that will be attached throughout the study, they can then draw blood just by attaching a tube, without poking you multiple times, every time they need to draw blood. However, there will be a change of cannula every 48 – 72 hours so you will have to go through the discomfort of the cannulation if your inpatient stay exceeds 2 – 3 days.

Sometimes the blood just stops flowing and they will need to change the cannula or just do an ad-hoc draw of blood.

Cannula in hand drawing

Source: Wikipedia

Three meals (sometimes even supper), WiFi, charging ports, clothes, sleeping and shower facilities will also be provided.

What To Prepare

  • Identification card
  • Follow instructions in the email confirmation (e.g. fasting, no alcohol, no vigorous exercise etc)
  • Toiletries
  • Slippers
  • Personal electronic devices
  • Things to occupy your time during the stay

List Of Procedures That You Might Go Through 

  • Receive drugs, procedures or perform behaviours for testing
  • Insertion of the cannula on the arm
  • Physical examination
  • Urine test
  • ECG
  • Blood pressure test
  • Blood test

Duration

Full day

Expected Payment

S$200 – S$300 per full day

Clinical Trial – Outpatient Visit

An outpatient visit is typically done after an inpatient stay. This is to check if you are doing ok after undergoing the clinical trial.

If the experiment is just a half-day thing, there will be no inpatient stay and the experiment will be done during the outpatient visit.

The number of outpatient visits can also range from 1 to 10 or even more depending on the study.

What To Expect During The Clinical Trial – Outpatient Visit

What to prepare

  • Identification card
  • Follow instructions in the email confirmation (e.g. fasting, no alcohol, no vigorous exercise etc)

List Of Procedures That You Might Go Through 

  • Physical examination
  • Urine test
  • ECG
  • Blood pressure test
  • Blood test

Duration

Approximately 2 hours

Expected Payment

S$70 – S$80

My Thoughts On Paid Clinical Trials

When attending a screening, wear a loose short sleeve top to make it easier during the ECG, blood test and physical examination. Also, drink enough water and try not to go to the washroom before screenings to make sure you have enough pee for the urine test.

If you are afraid or hate needles, clinical trials might not be suitable for you as there will be a lot of blood drawing and needle poking. There will also be a cannula kept in your hand during the inpatient stay. There will be a cannulation every 48 – 72 hours too. It will not be a comfortable experience.

To participate in a clinical trial, you will need a lot of control of your schedule. A typical employee that has fixed working hours and has to report to an office will not be able to participate.

If you have a choice, choose the clinical trial that has the most consecutive sessions with minimal breaks in between. Some clinical trials last up to half a year due to the outpatient visits being spaced out weekly or even monthly. You are only able to go for 2 to 3 clinical trials a year. There will be a mandatory break of 3 – 6 months after your discharge date before you can attend another clinical trial. The break is to make sure that the last clinical trial does not interfere with the results of the next clinical trial.

To me, the free meals, WiFi, air-conditioned sleeping quarters is like going for a paid vacation. You can also do your work while staying in the facility.

The payout is really attractive but you need to understand the risks. Pay attention during the briefing on all the potential side effects so that you can make an informed decision on whether you would like to participate in that particular study. Any injury arising from taking part in the study will be covered by the sponsor of the study.

TL, DR

You can expect to make about S$1,000 to S$3,000 for attending a clinical trial. The date of payment can take up vary greatly, ranging from 0 – 90 days from the discharge date to be paid out. You can expect to attend only about 2 – 3 clinical trials a year. It is not enough to replace your entire income but it can supplement your income. Your schedule has to be flexible enough to fit in the screenings, inpatient stays and outpatient visits. There will be a lot of needle poking and blood draw. Understand that there are risks involved and make sure you understand them before deciding to take part.

If you have any questions regarding my clinical trial experiences, you can send me an email at consumelesslife@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

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