McLean Hospital Drug Study Lures Many Harvard Students

How would you like to make $100 in twelve hours?

Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital in Belmont is offering $100 to subjects between the ages of 18 and 35 who participate in a study concerning the effects of stimulants, sedatives and tranquilizers on mood. The only prerequisite for the study is a history of use of these drugs, or substances akin to them.

"We've been swamped with applicants from Harvard," Dr. Maureen H. Orzack, co-director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center study, said yesterday. "Maybe there is just more drug use of this kind at Harvard--I don't know," she added.

Although Orzack declined to name the drugs used in the study, she said all of the substances are available through prescriptions and are not investigational new drugs (INDs).

Dean M. Gallant, executive officer for the Standing Committee on the Use of Human Subjects at Harvard University, said yesterday he was not surprised Harvard students comprise the largest group selected for the study. He explained that the drugs are probably on a par with Valium and Librium, and that Harvard students are a "very rich, upwardly mobile, and sophisticated" group--the type usually associated with the use of those drugs.


Archie C. Epps III, dean of students declined yesterday to speculate or comment on the number of Harvard students selected for the study.

Applicants for the study are first screened through the telephone and then undergo personal interviews and psychological tests at the hospital to determine if they have enough of a history of drug use to handle the amount to be administered.

Normally, such experiments involving Harvard students are investigated by the Standing Committee on the Use of Human Subjects. However, because the study is not funded through the University, the Committee relies on the judgement of the 21-person Institutional Review Board at McLean Hospital to assure that the study poses no unnecessary risks to the subjects, and that the anticipated benefits of the study outweigh the possible side effects.

Both before and after the study the subjects fill out questionaires describing their mood, and they are also requested to send a postcard the next morning in dicating their state of mind.

"We don't let them leave here until they have returned to a normal level," Orzack said, adding, "We don't want them to drive, or go back to work or classes.