Are you interested in participating in a clinical trial, but worried about potential costs along the way? While clinical trials often come with some costs, trial participants have a broad array of options to help ensure they get the treatment they need. Read on if you’ve ever asked yourself: Are clinical trials free?
Are Clinical Trials Free?
Who Pays for Clinical Trials?
First things first: Participants themselves do not foot the costs of clinical trials. Instead, the sponsor of the study typically pays for all costs involved. These sponsors might include the government, drug makers, or medical technology companies. Trial sponsors cover all research costs during clinical trials, as well as special testing required outside of standard clinical visits. While these trials can cost millions, sponsors realize that investing in quality clinical trials is both a sound fiscal move and a step toward greater public health outcomes.
Patient Care Costs
The term “participant care costs” refers to costs directly related to your medical care, which likely intersects with your trial participation. For example, if a patient with breast cancer enrolls in a clinical trial studying a new cancer drug, that patient’s routine check-ups and imaging would be considered participant care costs. These costs will either be covered by the study sponsor or your health insurance provider. Participant care costs include the following:
- Routine doctor visits
- Routine hospital stays
- Treatments to improve symptoms or side effects from study drug or device
- Routine lab tests
- Routine X-rays and other imaging
Research costs involve the specifics of a clinical trial outside of a participant’s general medical care. While these costs typically aren’t covered by health insurance, they are usually covered by a trial’s sponsor. Examples of research costs include the following:
- The study drug
- Additional lab tests performed purely for research purposes
- Additional x-rays and imaging tests performed solely for the trial
Are Clinical Trials Free for Patients?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strict rules governing clinical trials. One of those rules requires that clinical trial participants receive all study-related doctor visits, diagnostic testing, and treatments completely free of charge. While every trial is different, this usually means that participants will not be asked to pay extra out-of-pocket costs during a trial. However, some trials do come with additional costs that go beyond the scope of a standard study. These costs should be outlined in the informed consent document that participants receive before agreeing to join a trial.
Other Costs in Clinical Trials
While participant care costs and research costs are both typically covered during a trial period, there are occasional expenses to keep in mind. For example, when you take part in a trial, you may have to schedule extra visits to your doctor. These visits can present extra out-of-pocket costs including transportation, meals, parking, and child care. Some studies pay participants for their time to help cover these costs; however, some studies do not offer participant compensation. If you decide to enroll in a non-compensated trial, be sure to speak to the study coordinator about resources to help you cover out-of-pocket costs.
So, are clinical trials free? The answer is a bit more complicated than “yes” or “no.” While participants are not required to pay for study-specific medical care during trials, they may incur certain out-of-pocket expenses during the trial. However, these expenses should never hinder your medical care. If you have concerns about out-of-pocket costs, a trial administrator can help.
Have you ever thought about participating in a clinical trial? You could be a part of history! QPS Missouri is looking for new participants. Since opening its doors in 1994, QPS Missouri has conducted over 1,000 FDA-regulated studies, paying out over $35 million to local participants. Your local participation could have a global impact, as QPS is an international leader in contract research with facilities in North America, Europe, and Asia. Our mission is to accelerate the development of drugs worldwide by enabling breakthroughs in pharmaceutical innovation. This includes several pediatric studies across several age ranges. If you would like to join us in this crucial healthcare mission, consider applying for a clinical trial.
To get started, you simply need to fill out an online application. After that, within 48 business hours, a recruiting coordinator will contact you for your pre-screening assessment. To learn more, please visit the QPS Missouri website, review the study participation process, or check out our list of frequently asked questions.