After 10 days in lab, lovers breathe easy, welcome test of time

July 02, 1994|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Sun Staff Writer

Quick quiz. In two weeks, you are to be married. Do you:

A) Have a nasty quarrel with your beloved over the guest list?

B) Have a nervous breakdown?

C) Check into a local pharmaceutical company to test a new asthma medication?

For Klara Hoblitz of Baltimore and Daniel Sperry of Bowie, "C" was the unexpected, but ultimately satisfying choice. The young couple, scheduled to march up the aisle today, find themselves a bit richer and happier after spending 10 days together as test subjects in a drug study at PharmaKinetics in downtown Baltimore.

No, seriously.

It helps to see them together. Daniel holding Klara's hand while a technician takes her blood one more time. Klara wrapping her arms around Daniel and staring up at him with big brown eyes.

They even finish one another's sentences.

"We got most everything done . . ." begins Daniel, 21, who after the honeymoon will be working as a sales associate at Value City in Bowie, but wants to be a writer or teacher one day.

"So when we came in, we had nothing left to do," finishes Klara, 19, who plans to attend culinary school.

They are young, in love and, after 10 days of taking an asthma medication not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration, they appear to be more in love than ever.

This was not directly related to the drug, just an unexpected side effect from shutting out the rest of the world in the last hectic days before their wedding.

They first came to PharmaKinetics, on West Fayette Street, because Daniel wanted the details on signing up for another drug study, a 24-hour commitment that promised $350. "And I came along, because I go with him everywhere," Klara says, beaming.

But employees at PharmaKinetics, where up to 3,000 people a year participate in various studies, assumed the couple was interested in the asthma study, a series of trials to determine the medication's effect, especially on the liver. When Daniel and Klara heard the details -- $1,000 each and some serious quantity and quality time -- both signed up.

"The worst thing that could have happened is they could come in here for 10 days and break up," PharmaKinetics spokeswoman Elizabeth Campbell jokes. "I've never spent 10 days alone with my husband."

In fact, the couple found themselves longing for the study.

"We kept saying, a couple of more days and we can go to PharmaKinetics," Klara recalls.

Finally, the big day came and they checked in, armed with only their personal effects and a financial planner for newlyweds.

Although they had separate sleeping quarters, they spent 18 hours a day together. They watched videos, played Ping-Pong and worked out the final details of their wedding program.

"We read a book together," Daniel says, "taking turns. I'd read one page, then she'd read a page to me."

"That was really nice," Klara says. "We'd never done that before."

A phone was their only contact with the outside world, helping to curtail wedding angst.

Klara's biggest worry? That the study's ban on exercise might mean gaining weight. But the low-fat diet was almost spa-like.

She lost one pound and Daniel lost four.

The study over, Klara and Daniel have become virtual PharmaKinetics missionaries, spreading the word about the joys joint sequestration. Other about-to-be married couples have started calling, asking if there are slots in the next round of asthma studies.

"We learned a lot about one another," Klara says.

For example? "We learned we get along pretty well."

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