Remove ads for clinical trials, student job shops told

March 24, 2006

Student job centres have been told to take down advertisements seeking people to test drugs in the wake of the clinical trial in London that left six men seriously ill.

The National Association of Student Employment Services, which runs student Job Shops in universities, has recommended that its members take down the adverts.

It is estimated that thousands of students earn large sums by taking part in drug trials.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is investigating a trial carried out in a London hospital by the US firm Parexel, after volunteers suffered multiple organ failure. One of the men is believed to be a student, although Parexel would not comment on this.

A spokeswoman for the National Association of Student Employment Services said: "We have advised any Job Shop that may be advertising these opportunities to remove them from job notice boards. No Nases members have advertised for the specific company involved (in the clinical trial), and a survey carried out by Nases shows few Job Shops promote these opportunities on ethical grounds."

Teesside University's student union Job Shop is among those that have taken down adverts. Lesley Boyle, Job Shop manager, said it had advertised trials run by Covance, a drug development services company, largely for smoking-cessation products, for about three years.

Volunteers were paid about £1,000 to £1,500 for a three-week trial. About 45 students from the university took part in tests in 2003-04, she said The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said £2,000 for a fortnight's stay in hospital testing pharmaceuticals was typical and that about 2,500 people a year took part in the trials.

A spokesman said a "large number" of these people would be students, including gap-year students from abroad.

He added that the number of people volunteering for trials had remained stable over the years and added that banning drug companies from advertising for volunteers was an "overreaction to one totally unpredictable event".

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