Pay-to-participate clinical trials

As more and more regenerative medicines move from development, to clinical trial and finally approval, the number of clinical trials underway has sky-rocketed. According to, the numbers of clinical trials investigating regenerative medicines, cell therapies or related treatments has almost doubled between 2011 and 2019. How can patients access these trials for life-saving treatments and should they pay to take part?

Pay-to-participate clinical trials aim to offset some of the often-high costs of developing a therapy by asking the patient to contribute to the cost of the trial. Although pay-to-participate clinical trials do not in themselves suggest a potential treatment or facility is not conducting good science, particularly in the regenerative medicine field they have become closely linked to ‘bad actor’ clinics legitimizing unproven therapies by calling them clinical trials and listing them on clinical trial registries.

However, are pay-to-participate clinical trials ethical? Do they have the same checks and balances a legitimate clinical trial might do, and are patients potentially putting themselves in harm’s way by taking part in a pay-to-participate clinical trial?

In this section of the Patient Zone, access unbiased information about the benefits and drawbacks of paying to participate in clinical research.