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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 14:03 GMT
Making a career out of drug tests
By Chirag Trivedi
BBC News, London

A man who has made a 'second career' out of taking part in drug tests has said he will not be put off from volunteering for more trials despite six men falling seriously ill.

Drugs
Thousands of people take part in trials every year

Vincent Moissac-Vignoux, 33, from Hackney, east London, is a construction worker by trade but said he makes about 13,000-a-year from drug trials and has been taking part in them since 1997.

He insists that despite six men being taken into intensive care on Tuesday during a clinical drugs trial he would not think twice about going for another test, he said: "I'm not worried at all - it just means more opportunities for me."

He first took part in a trial after answering an advert in TNT magazine but is now on a list of volunteers which pharmaceutical companies use.

Barred for life

He explained the list shows when you last took part in a trial as applicants can only be used in trials three or four months apart.

He said Parexcel, the company involved in the incident at Northwick Park, send out texts alerting people on the register to upcoming trials.

But he adds there are a number of safeguards.

"When you go for the trial you have to fill out a medical questionnaire, have blood and urine tests, a breathalyser test, a test to see if you are a non-smoker," he said.

I have fainted a few times and once I did go blind in one eye for about an hour
Vincent Moissac-Vignoux

"If they find you are a smoker or you tested positive for recreational drugs then you are barred for life.

"If you then pass the medical tests, the pharmaceutical company contacts your GP, who can veto your participation if they want."

Mr Moissac-Vignoux said the company then outlines all the possible side effects and "most importantly how much you are going to be paid".

"I don't think I've ever been put off or been scared after reading what the adverse reactions might be," he said.

"But I have fainted a few times and once I did go blind in one eye for about an hour.

I have tested potions, lotions and inhalers. I have nothing to lose and I can make good money.
Vincent Moissac-Vignoux

"Every trial is different. Sometimes you are kept in, other times you are treated on an outpatient basis.

"But the treatment you get is much better than in the NHS. You have individual care, with the best facilities in plush surroundings.

"I have tested potions, lotions and inhalers. I have nothing to lose and I can make good money."

Mr Moissac-Vignoux said he has met firemen, policemen and armed forces personnel on the trials but they are mostly travellers, and generally South Africans and Australians.

If you can navigate your way around the world with just a backpack, you are not a stupid person
Lynnette Ewb, editor of TNT magazine

One antipodean, Xavier Walsh, said: "We got paid 2,500 for 15 days in a hospital.

"Of those 15 days, for only three were we being administered the drugs. The rest was just free time."

Lynnette Ewb, editor of TNT magazine which targets Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans living in London, said: "I have been at TNT for six years and have come into contact with many people who have gone on these trials.

"For travellers it is a good, fast, and on the whole a safe way, of making extra money while travelling.

"And I think it is misleading to suggest people jump blindly into these things.

"If you can navigate your way around the world with just a backpack, you are not a stupid person."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear more about the clinical drug trials



SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Drug trials
15 Mar 06 |  Health
Six taken ill after drug trials
15 Mar 06 |  London
Woman died on cannabis drug trial
12 Dec 05 |  South Yorkshire
Drug research openness promised
06 Jan 05 |  Health


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