Bad memory? Pop a pill

January 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Drugs & Medication, featured, Health


Let’s face it we all get ‘senior moments’, I was regularly having them in my 30′s but then I always was ahead of myself. Lists help some people, a rubber band around the wrist is also an alternative, but now there is news of a possible ‘memory pill’ that could make forgetfulness a thing of the past.

Originally developed to treat Alzheimer’s, they are now being promoted to help with exam revision and memory loss – which of course is a much bigger, and more profitable, market. AstraZeneca is ahead in the race to get this product to market as an over the counter item as what they term a ‘lifestyle pill’. And here was me thinking it was something you only got in Sunday supplements.

This isn’t the first such drug to catch the eye of the consumer, and students have apparently been trying a drug called Provigil, used to treat narcolepsy, to help them stay awake. Whether for studying or partying isn’t known yet, but there is some evidence that ADD drugs like Ritalin are being used to help promote concentration – which they would certainly need if they are regularly using drugs to keep them awake beyond their own body’s tolerance.

It isn’t illegal to buy these drugs over the Internet, but there are risks as there are with all medicines. In particular these drugs can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels but not all clinicians agree. Barbara Sahakian is professor of clinical neuropsychology at Cambridge and she has likened these new cognitive drugs to products like Red Bull and other drinks that stimulate with caffeine and sugar, seeing them as not so different.

Not sure I agree, there is a limit to the number of soft drinks you can down to get a stimulant effect, but with drugs it is all too easy to just take another dose and we just don’t know what the cumulative effect in the system might be.