Yes, it's true. Professional human guinea pigs get paid for
participating in medical experiments. It reminds me of the scene
from the movie Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, in
which the father explains to his fifty children that he can't
afford to feed them any longer. "It's medical experiments
for the lot of you," he announces, and all the children
are sad (as they sing the infamous "sperm" song).
In real life it isn't so bad according to those that do this
for a living. In some cases you simply take a drug for a while,
have a few blood tests done, and get paid. That certainly sounds
Medical, health and psychological research requires a steady
supply of humans for testing. Trials and experiments can be for
testing of new drugs, new medical devices, or even new psychological
therapies. They can also be general research into various diets,
exercise routines or other things related to health or medicine.
Volunteers - the human guinea pigs - who participate in the various
trials, tests and experiments get paid.
Here's a video on volunteering for
For example, in researching the topic for this page, I came
across a study that was done on the benefits of a diet based
on what ancient hunter-gatherers ate. The volunteers used for
this study were paid $200 and given all the food they were to
eat for three weeks. Daily blood testing was one of the requirements,
and nothing else could be eaten during this time, but the subjects
were otherwise free to live their lives normally.
Now, that is an example of a relatively low-paying job for
research participants (which is a nice term for guinea pigs).
Of course, in addition to the $200, the participants did save
the money they would have otherwise spent on food for those three
weeks. Every study, trial or test has its own budget and pay-scale.
Sometimes it will hardly seem worth your while. On the other
hand, there are some people that make a living at this.
For example, in another study, subjects were paid $9,000 for
participating in three weeks of asthma research. This was much
more intrusive. In fact, it required having a tube down the throat
for much of the time. You probably couldn't do this one if you
had a regular job. But $3,000 per week is decent pay if you have
nothing else going on. The requirements of various tests will
obviously vary, and the pay varies greatly as well.
The website www.gpgp.net (guinea pigs get
paid) has info on drug trials and other studies that you
can get paid to participate in. How else can you find these kinds
of opportunities? Here are a few ideas:
1. Try calling major research facilities and simply asking
if they need volunteers for any upcoming studies.
2. Search online by typing in the various types into a search
engine ("dietary research volunteers," or "cancer
drug trials"). You can start by looking for any studies
that are relevant to conditions you already have. If you have
diabetes, for example, you might find a better way to treat it
even as you get paid.
3. Find a group of people that participates in these trials
and experiments regularly if you want to do this more than once.
Hanging out with the other human guinea pigs, at least in an
online forum is a great way to hear about new opportunities (and
you might hear the occasional horror story as well).