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Free vacation offered for testing diarrhea drug

You need to wear a patch, travel to Guatemala or Mexico, and keep a diary.

By Karen Datko Dec 29, 2009 8:16PM

A U.S. vaccine manufacturer is offering to cover travel expenses for 1,800 volunteers who are planning to go where Montezuma’s revenge is more than an idle threat.


In exchange for up to $2,200 to cover airfare and accommodation in three-star hotels, Intercell is asking volunteers who travel to Mexico or Guatemala to keep a diary of study events, shall we say, for 17 days. The study is open to travelers from Great Britain and Germany who are planning to visit either country by May.


Sorry, U.S. readers, the portion of the trial involving 170 Americans is already complete.

The purpose is to study the effectiveness of a vaccine intended to prevent or minimize the scourge of traveler’s diarrhea.


Here’s what’s involved with the clinical trial, called Trek Study:

  • Participants must be between 18 and 64 years of age, and in good health.
  • They must travel to Mexico or Guatemala for at least seven days. They can travel wherever they want as long as they remain within three hours of medical centers where blood samples will be taken. Stool samples will be required if they get the illness.
  • Half of the participants will get a patch containing the medicine. The other half will wear a placebo. “The vaccine is delivered through a patch worn on the arm for six hours three weeks prior to travelling, followed by a booster dose delivered via a second patch one week before travelling,” The Independent reports.
  • They will eat and drink what they normally would on the trip.

"Dr. (Nigel) Thomas (clinical director at Intercell) agreed that results of the study could be imperilled if volunteers chose to eat only in five-star hotels," The Independent says. "'If a traveller is interested in the country they will end up eating outside hotel restaurants,' he insisted."


For more details, consult the study Web site.


There may be a bonus if you're one of the lucky volunteers who get the medication in the patch. The BBC reports (British spellings apply), “According to results published in medical journal The Lancet last year, it reduced the incidence of diarrhoea by some 75%.”


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