If you could take a pill that would help you study and get better grades, would you? Off-label use of “smart drugs” – pharmaceuticals meant to treat disorders like ADHD, narcolepsy, and Alzheimer’s – are becoming increasingly popular among college students hoping to get ahead, by helping them to stay focused and alert for longer periods of time. But is this cheating? Should their use as cognitive enhancers be approved by the FDA, the medical community, and society at large? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Arguing for the use of of smart drugs is Dr. Anjan Chatterjee, Professor at UPenn & Chair of Neurology at Pennsylvania Hospital with Nita Farahany, Professor at Duke University & Director at Duke Science and Society. Arguing against the use of smart drugs is Eric Racine, Director of the Neuroethics Research Unit, IRCM with Nicole Vincet, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Neuroscience at Georgia State University. John Donvan moderates. This debate was taped on November 2, 2015.
· Smart drugs could give students an unfair advantage in a competitive academic environment.
· Smart drugs can expand human capabilities and deepen our understanding of brain functioning.
· If smart drugs were too dangerous for general use, they wouldn't be widely presribed for ADHD and other disorders.
· Individuals should be able to make their own decisions on whether or not to use smart drugs.
· Using smart drugs could give students an unfair advantage in a competitive academic environment.
· There are health risks linked to the use of smart drugs, and we still don't know their long-term effects.
· Widespread use of smart drugs may lead to an overly competitive academic and professional environment.
· If smart drug use was widely accepted, only those with the financial resources to buy the drugs would yield the advantage.