1. How many drug trials have you participated in? And what was the biggest challenge you encountered while participating in a drug trial?

To date, I have participated in five clinical trials treating various conditions from diarrhoea to cancer. Though I have had the drugs administered orally, through injection, as well as via intravenous drip, the biggest challenge initially was merely getting used to being pricked daily for blood draws.

Beyond that, the inconvenience is simply having to adapt to sleeping and eating patterns based on a strict schedule, all in a relatively intimate environment. However as long as you are flexible and respectful with regards to shared spaces, doing a clinical trial at NZCR promises to be an enjoyable experience, especially owing to the wonderful nursing team who take excellent care of you.

2. Have you done any homework before participating in the drug trial? What preparations have you done?

In terms of homework, I read through the Participant Information Sheet thoroughly, which was always informative and concisely written in an easily accessible language. If I did not understand any parts or wanted further explanation, I simply asked the doctors as many questions as I had prior to screening and they were always honest and gracious in answering every query, clearing any doubts I had, especially as Google only gets you so far!

Preparation wise, it was absolutely important to adhere to each study’s relatively strict but realistic and reasonable requirements before admission, whether it be dietary (i.e., not eating certain foods, not drinking alcohol, not taking other drugs, etc.), not doing any strenuous exercise, not smoking depending on the trial, all in order to ensure you successfully qualify for a place in the trial! That said, for most people who fortunately lead normal, healthy lives like I do, the adjustments are really minor and definitely worth it!

3. Did you tell your family and friends before participating in the drug trial? How do they feel about your decision? (For or against, will there be any concerns?)

My friends all know about my participation in drug trials and the risks involved. I especially initially considered not telling my parents to prevent them from worrying and them even offering to pay me to NOT join – those who have Asian parents can certainly relate!

However, upon explaining very patiently to them the objective and importance of clinical trials, as part of the process of producing cures and treatments in the form of medicines we take for granted when purchasing them at the pharmacy, they slowly accepted my decision to go ahead and do, not one, not two, but many trials afterwards. Certainly after seeing that I was fine after each one and actually, arguably most importantly, well fed and taken care of during each stay, they stopped worrying as much.

4. Have you consulted with the experts in the drug laboratory, what is the approximate proportion of side effects?

As I alluded to in the risks above, in reality they are indeed minor as the vast majority of participants in my trials, me included, did not experience any side effects whatsoever. Even though I did research the sponsoring labs and drugs in question as much as possible online, NZCR provided information on previous trials with the same drug with regards to the prevalence and degree of any side effects observed. Again, the doctors’ knowledge and trustworthy experience on the drugs’ nature and expected results were useful reassurance, knowing that they always put participants safety first.

5. Did you experience side effects during your drug trials? If there were side effects, how did you get through the side effects?

As above, I did not experience any side effects as they were uncommon in the trials I participated in. Regardless, being monitored closely by doctors and nurses alike, and knowing that the facility is equipped for the event of anything untoward happening was reassuring.

6. What is your greatest benefit from participating in a drug trial? Would you still consider continuing to participate in similar drug trials?

The greatest benefit on an altruistic level is being able to advance scientific research by playing a necessary first-hand role in creating not only new treatments, but more effective and accessible medicines. On a personal level, being compensated handsomely whilst being able to use the free time to study, work, relax, play games and, more often than not, get to know interesting people, has made every stay a worthwhile experience from which I have learnt heaps!

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