Wednesday, July 18

‘Smart pill’ illegally sold across UK universities


With exam season looming, universities across the United Kingdom are seeing a rise in the illegal selling and purchasing of ‘smart pills’, such as Modafinil. Such pills, meant to be prescribed for patients suffering from sleep and attention deficit disorders, are being sold “after being bought online and imported into the UK.”

It has been reported that “1 in 5 students have used modafinil”, despite there no one actually being certain of its long-term side effects. As for immediate side effects, the NHS reports that, during a test in which 64 healthy volunteers were given modafinil, “the people who took modafinil had slowed responses, and were no more accurate than the placebo […]”. Other side effects apparently lead to “heart problems, psychosis, hallucinations and severe skin reactions.”

On the legality of the purchasing of modafinil, the BBC reports:

“While it is illegal to sell modafinil in the UK without a prescription, it is not illegal to buy. There are many websites, often based in India, which make it available to purchase – though the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency warn this can be unsafe.”

Students have reported that the drug may lead to feeling unsociable and may result in focusing on things apart from studying, such as video games, making the ‘smart drug’ counter-productive. Despite this, many, such as Professor Barbara Sahakian, at the University of Cambridge, find the phenomenon of students taking the drug fascinating. She has told The Guardian:

“Some people just want the competitive edge – they want to do better at exams so they can get into a better university or get a better degree. And there’s another group of people who want to function the best they can all the time. But people have also told me that they’ve used these drugs to help them do tasks that they’ve found not very interesting, or things they’ve been putting off.”

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About Author

Matt is a law student at Durham University. As a result of his background as an international student, he has an interest in international affairs as well as politics and film.

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