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King's College to pay students to take cocaine

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A top London university has asked its students to take cocaine as part of a clinical trial in exchange for payment.

Students at King’s College London received an email from a professor asking for "healthy male volunteers, 25-40 years of age, to take part in a clinical study involving nasal administration of cocaine."

Researchers at the university want a better understanding of how the class A drug effects the body.

They will only accept volunteers who do not use the drug recreationally or students studying medicine or dentistry, and participants will not be able to cut or dye their hair for 120 days during the study. Those accepted for the trial will be paid for their time and travel expenses.

The trial has been approved by London Westminster Research Ethics Committee and will be closely supervised by the clinical toxicology department at St Thomas’ Hospital.

The email received by the students says that after the cocaine is administered scientists will take samples of blood, urine, hair, sweat and oral fluid to compare and investigate how cocaine and its metabolites are spread through the body.

An estimated 700,000 people in Britain took cocaine last year, making it the second most popular drug after cannabis. Scientists are keen to understand more about the drug.

Here is a copy of the email received by students:

"HEALTHY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

Who are we looking for?

Healthy male volunteers, 25-40 years of age, to take part in a clinical study involving nasal administration of cocaine. Medical and dental students will not be enrolled to this study.

What will happen?

After cocaine administration, repeated biological samples (blood, urine, hair, sweat, oral fluid) will be taken to compare and investigate how cocaine and its metabolites are spread through the human body.

What are the requirements?

Potential participants must be fit and well, have no past medical history and not be users of recreational drugs. They must be happy not to cut or dye their hair for 120 days during the study follow up period.

How long will it take?

During the first visit we will check your suitability for the study. The second visit (main experiment) will be around thirty days later and will take most of the day. We would then like to see you 5 more times over a 90 day period so that some repeat biological samples can be taken.

Will you benefit from taking part in this study?

There is no direct benefit from taking part. Reasonable financial compensation will be made for your time, effort and expenses incurred from completing the study.

Who is overseeing the study?

The study will be supervised by the Clinical Toxicology department from St Thomas' Hospital, London. The research team includes a medical doctor (registrar or consultant) who will be present at all times.

What now?

All participant information will be anonymised and held confidentially. If you are interested in taking part and would like to find more information please primarily address any enquires to (the Chief Scientific Officer) at [email address omitted) were you will be provided with a full participant information sheet."

A spokesman for King's College London said: “All the relevant ethical approvals were received for this study.

“The study will be conducted under the highest level of medical supervision in a dedicated clinical research suite.”

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