I received something very disturbing in the mail this week. It was an invitation to participate in a study on depression. The invitation said participants could earn up to $800, and that they could be asked to use an FDA approved drug to treat depression.
Now I ask you, who the hell in their right mind would gamble with their body like this? The word "right mind" should strike a chord, because obviously, anyone suffering from depression so serious, someone who is desperate to make $800 (and these studies are not one or two days--they last months or years), someone who is willing to risk health and life for $800, is certainly not in his or her "right mind."
Let's take a look at why people might dial that 1-800 number or log onto the website. Maybe they are poor, which is contributing to their stress, which is contributing to their depression. Maybe they don't know why they feel the way they do--they just know they are depressed or think they are depressed. Maybe participants have a gambling problem or have gotten themselves into debt. Maybe participants have no health insurance and they see this as a way to get treated while making some money on the side. Maybe they have no idea what the possible negative side effects of antidepressants are.
You could argue that the testers are trained professionals, that they explain the risks, that they do a medical background on potential participants. If you can imagine that, you should also be able to imagine them handing a pen to the participant and showing him/her where to sign the liability waiver which might or might not be explained, but that's okay because surely, participants must have high reading/writing skills. I mean, none of us really read those papers anyway because someone explains what we're signing, and no organization that makes enough money to give away $800 per participant would ever take advantage of someone. Right? (Are you hearing the sarcasm?)
What kind of professionals think they have any right to play God with someone's life? Are they that pumped up with pride that they think they can predict every variable of a participant's experience, making the test safe? Do they believe that strongly in their medication that they are positive nothing serious will happen to the participant? Do they think it's okay to prey on sick, desperate people, throwing out an $800 bone to compensate for any discomfort? And do they really believe no one will hear about this, stand up and say, "Who the hell do you think you are?"
I'm not going to link to any of these disgusting corporations that prey on the distressed. If you really want to know how to pull up lists of these unethical blood suckers, below are the search terms I used. But please--promise me you won't sign up.
$800 study depression fda approved