A leading academic from the University of Manchester in England says that students should be allowed to take "smart drugs" because they will help boost their performance.
Professor John Harris, also the joint Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Medical Ethics, stresses the need for making cognition-enhancing drugs available to students without prescription for non-therapeutic purposes like studying.
AdvertisementHe insists that serious consideration should now be given to making some of them available on prescription for non-medical reasons, specifically for the purpose of enhancing cognitive performance.
He says that there is a sizable body of evidence suggesting that some stimulants do improve concentration and performance, and that their side effects are proportional to their benefits.
He also underscores the fact that many prescription drugs, such as the contraceptive pill or sleeping pills given to air travellers, are already prescribed for non-therapeutic reasons.
"Viagra has a medical use, but it is well know that the sales figures are far in excess of the level of dysfunction in society," Times Online quoted him as expressing his views in a commentary in the journal Nature.
Professor Harris is also urging universities and the government to acknowledge the fact that there was nothing wrong with trying to improve cognitive function among students.
He says that educational institutions can formulate policies regarding the use of such drugs before exams, should the government accept the idea and change the law accordingly.
"The issue would move from legitimacy to one of fairness and cost," he said.
Professor Harris said that it would be helpful to determine precisely how widely used such drugs were by bringing the debate about their use into the open.
"If, as seems probable, they continue to prove safe to use and they have advantageous effects in terms of cognitive enhancement, it would make sense to try to maximise their benefits," he said.