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Drug tests for exam students

22nd May 2008

Experts say students at schools and universities are using brain improving drugs ahead of sitting exams.

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The Academy of Medical Sciences is suggesting that education establishments may in future have to test students for such drug use after it emerged that drugs for diseases such as Alzheimer’s were being used by healthy people to boost alertness and memory.

Students, it suggested, could have to undergo urine tests as in the case of athletes.

The warning follows a report of the academy’s working group set up in 2006 and led by Cambridge University neuroscience expert Sir Gabriel Horn.

It was established after ministers asked it to look at the use of drugs which impact on the workings of the brain.

The group said that psychoactive drugs had great potential because of a better understanding of how the brain works and could help further with Alzheimer’s, drug addiction and mental illness.

The report indicated that vaccines could be developed to neutralise addiction, though investment and better coordination between government and industry was needed if this was to develop.

The group pointed to anecdotal evidence that drugs such as Aricept (for Alzheimer’s), Ritalin (for attention deficit disorder) and modafinil (which targets day-time sleepiness) were being used by otherwise healthy people to boost brain performance.

Sir Gabriel added: “We see similarities in the future use of cognition enhancers with the current use of performance enhancing drugs in sport.?

However, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said brain enhancers being used on a large scale was unlikely.

 

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