Miércoles 30 de Abril de 2008, Ip nº 228

One in five admit using brain drugs
Por James Randerson

One in five people who responded to a survey in the journal Nature have used brain-enhancing drugs without a prescription to improve their concentration, memory or problem-solving skills.

The survey also revealed anxiety about the drugs' use by children, but a third of respondents said they would feel under pressure to give them to their children if other students were gaining an advantage from them.

The survey was prompted by an article in December by two researchers at the University of Cambridge's psychiatry department highlighting anecdotal reports of widespread use of brain-enhancing drugs among academics.

Sharon Morein-Zamir, one of the article's authors, said she thought the use of off-label brain-enhancing drugs was not confined to the academic world. A recent government report predicted the use of such drugs would become "as common as coffee".

The Nature survey asked about Ritalin, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Provigil, used to treat narcolepsy, and the blood pressure drugs beta blockers.

Of the 1,427 respondents from around the world (mostly from the US) a fifth had used the drugs without a prescription. Of those 62% had used Ritalin, 44% had used Provigil and 15% beta blockers such as propranolol. But there was also concern over the use of the drugs reflected by 86% of respondents, saying that regulations should prevent their use by healthy children under 16. When asked what they would do if others in their child's class were using the drug to get better grades, 34% of respondents said they would feel under pressure to give it to their children.

  10/04/2008. The Guardian.