So a good article from th... (22 Dec 2004)

So a good article from the LA Times on nootropic drugs, which was on Slashdot.

That text mentions that most of these drugs are being developed as anti-Alzheimer's drugs because it's the only way in which to approach the regulators. There's still a very puritan streak in drugs regulation which says that drugs shouldn't seek to improve people, only to cure something that is wrong.

The word `improve' is a slippery one in the last sentence - who decides what is an improvement? Simply put; people decide themselves. Millions take caffeine (in many forms) every day as a performance booster and this is legal, mostly because of tradition. No one claims that caffeine is benign. Symptoms of overuse and withdrawal are part of the common culture but, also, no one would suggest that caffeine needs banning (at least no one worth listening to).

Drugs companies recognise that people do want to improve themselves and they would be very happy to make money by letting people do it. But since they aren't allowed to improve people, they have to create new diseases. So I confidently predict that Senile Brain-Disfunction (or something like it) will appear very soon as be the disease which nootropics can cure.

The products will almost certainly be prescription only. Otherwise, it would mean admitting that people can take responsibility for their own lives and from there you start wondering why non-addictive psycotropics are illegal - and we can't have that. Yet, despite them being prescription only, I assume that people will get they just as easily as all the other prescription `only' drugs. As far as I'm concerned this is a good thing.

I'm under no illusion that humans were created perfect and thus need no improvement. Caution is called for as we're playing with a very complex system which we don't really know much about, but not too much.