‘First time in human’ (FTIH) drug trials are an easy way to make some cash if you don’t mind being used as a guinea pig to test pipeline pharmaceuticals.

In David Cameron’s Britain you have to hustle to make a living which is why I found myself at a screening appointment to be a potential lab rat for SRT 3025.

I was cheered to read that SRT 3025 has been successfully tested on dogs and rats with side effects that could include abdominal hair loss, mucoid stools, red urine and weight loss.

All sounds bearable enough if you ignore the caveat a few lines down which says that ‘we cannot rule out the possibility that an unknown side-effect may be life threatening.’

SRT 3025 is an experimental drug for tackling diabetes which is poetically described as a: randomised, placebo controlled, single bind, dose-escalation, first-time-in human study to assess the safety and pharmacokenetics of single and repeat doses of SRT3025 in normal health volunteers.

Righto. Strap me, in dose me up and I’ll pick my cheque on the return trip from Alpha Centuri.

Not so quick, sonny. We don’t test on any old blood polluters.

First, you have to get through a rigorous four-hour screening which includes numerous forms to fill in, body measurements, blood tests, an ECG, urine sample, insufferable amounts of waiting, more form filling and a watery cup of cordial and digestive biscuit at the end of it.

So, here I am with a group of other sheepish ‘cohorts’ signing on the dotted line in a secure unit on the top floor of a hospital.

The NHS has yet to master the subtleties of central heating meaning you alternately freeze or swelter depending on where you are in the building. Then there’s the squeaky linoleum floor, sound of distant coughing and all pervading smell of over-cooked food that feels like its seeping into your bones. If you aren’t sick when you go in, there is a good change you will be when you get out.

The unit’s seventh floor windows quiver and rattle under a grey June sky as I lie topless and shivering hooked up to a heart monitor while answering the ministrations of some dour Eastern Bloc nurse.

Have you taken any recreational drugs recently? How much alcohol do you drink in a week? Do you smoke? How much do you exercise? And, my favourite, are you Spanish? Yo soy Ingles y yo no hablo espanol.

Eight of us are going through the motions in a line of cubicles. It’s the usual suspects. Students, the unemployed, the unemployable and some old pro who tells me this is eighth outing. It doesn’t look like it’s done him any harm although I note he hasn’t got any hair.

Cohorts who take part in FTIH studies – you can forget being referred to as a person once you enter the machine – are blind dosed with increasing amounts of a trial drug to see its effects on the body and how it is metabolised and excreted over several days or weeks.

Neither patient or doctor know who has been dosed or the amount they receive including a couple of patients who receive placebos.

I find out next week whether I’ve been successful in taking part in the trial. They have some dinky restrictions if you do get the green light including no consumption of Seville oranges or exotic citrus seven days prior to dosing along with no poppy seeds, alcohol, strenuous exercise or nicotine.

I could do with a drink just thinking about it.

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