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Originally published September 4 2008

Students Abuse Prescription Drugs in Hopes of Raising Academic Test Results

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A report commissioned by the British government warns that students are increasingly turning to brain-boosting prescription drugs in order to improve their academic performance. The report urges the United Kingdom to begin preparing a response before the problem becomes more serious.

The British government had asked the Academy of Medical Sciences to conduct a study into the expected effects of coming advances in drug research and brain sciences.

"Students using cognitive enhancers raise exactly the same issues as athletes using drugs to improve their performance. The risk is they could give people an unfair advantage in exams - and examination results stand for a lot in this country," said report co-author Professor Les Iversen, a pharmacologist from Oxford University.

Most of the drugs that are taken to improve cognitive function are prescription drugs intended to counter the effects of cognitive or neurological problems, such as attention deficit disorder, Alzheimer's disease or narcolepsy - including modafinil, donepazil, and amphetamines such as Ritalin.

The illegal sale of these drugs over in the Internet is increasing, Iversen warned.

"The situation right now is very haphazard. There's a big business in smarter drugs but no one to regulate it. This is a very active area and we'd better be prepared for a number of new drugs becoming available in the near future," he said.

The report also noted that because the drugs are designed for use by those with medical problems, their effects - whether positive or negative - on healthy people are unknown.

The government should begin preparing regulations to control the use of cognition-boosting drugs in competitive settings such as schools, universities and workplaces, the report advised, also noting that urine tests may be appropriate in some circumstances.

Other recommendations of the report include more research into drugs to treat addiction and into understanding the link between genetics and environmental factors in mental illness; and a new classification system for drugs to designate which ones are the most likely to cause side effects, overdose, addiction or excessive cost to the health system.

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