The use of methylphenidate among students: the future of enhancement?

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Outram, Simon M (2010) The use of methylphenidate among students: the future of enhancement? Journal of Medical Ethics, 36 (4). pp. 198-202. ISSN 0306-6800

Abstract

During the past few years considerable debate has arisen within academic journals with respect to the use of smart drugs or cognitive enhancement pharmaceuticals. The following paper seeks to examine the foundations of this cognitive enhancement debate using the example of methylphenidate use among college students. The argument taken is that much of the enhancement debate rests upon inflated assumptions about the ability of such drugs to enhance and over-estimations of either the size of the current market for such drugs or the rise in popularity as drugs for enhancing cognitive abilities. This article provides an overview of the empirical evidence that methylphenidate has the ability to significantly improve cognitive abilities in healthy individuals, and examines whether the presumed uptake of the drug is either as socially significant as implied or growing to the extent that it requires urgent regulatory attention. In addition, it reviews the evidence of side-effects for the use of methylphenidate which may be an influential factor in whether an individual decides to use such drugs. The primary conclusions are that neither drug efficacy, nor the benefit-to-risk balance, nor indicators of current or growing demand provide sufficient evidence that methylphenidate is a suitable example of a cognitive enhancer with mass appeal. In light of these empirically based conclusions, the article discusses why methylphenidate might have become seen as a smart drug or cognitive enhancer.

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Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/23924
DOI https://doi.org/10.1136/jme.2009.034421
Official URL http://jme.bmj.com/content/36/4/198.full.pdf+html
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1702 Cognitive Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 2201 Applied Ethics
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
Keywords cognitive enhancement pharmaceuticals, smart drugs, cognition, enhancers, prescription drugs, neuropsychology, neuroethics, bioethics, MPH
Citations in Scopus 75 - View on Scopus
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