Christmas and the holidays slowed me down and seemed to put clinical research on hold too, but things picked up again in January. By the beginning of the month I was in close contact with perhaps a dozen centers, but not all were in the process of starting a trial. I had missed out on one Gilead drug trial and the next one did not look like it would start until April. However, Bristol Myers and Abbott were both recruiting and had been recommended so I concentrated on them. I also found out about another pharmaceutical company, Boehringer, that was starting a clinical trial that looked particularly promising, at least to my naive eyes and the company’s public relations department.
By mid-January, I was deep into the screening process for all three experimental regimens. The Bristol Myers trial was taking place at a research center in Virginia, just a stone’s throw from Washington DC. I flew down by myself, took a taxi to a scary fleabag motel within walking distance of the hospital, and next morning was weighed and measured, my blood drawn, urine and heart tested, belly palpated, had an EKG, and was quizzed thoroughly about my history.
The next week, I flew down to a Gainesville research center for the Abbott screening, stayed in a nearby hotel, took a shuttle to the clinic and went through an identical process.
When I got back from Gainesville, I received discouraging news from Virginia. I could not be enrolled in the study because my bilirubin count was too high. Apparently, although this was not a clinically significant issue, nor a barrier to getting into most other studies, Bristol Myers had set a very low threshold for this particular result. I moved that file into the “no-go” sub-file on my computer where it joined Jacksonville, Baltimore and several others.
The next week I flew to Sarasota, Florida for my third screening of the month, this time for the Boehringer study. Same procedure. Taxi not shuttle. Better hotel but same everything else. Who knew the body had so much blood?
When I returned home from Sarasota, I still had not heard back from Gainesville but I had several more potential test sites lined up, the next of which was in Newport. I made plane reservations to go there the following Wednesday. I didn’t feel that I could stop my search until I was definitely in a study. Also, when I was traveling I didn’t worry as much.