Doctors against prescribing 'study drugs'

March 15, 2013 at 1:51 AM

NEW HAVEN, Conn., March 15 (UPI) -- Prescribing drugs to boost memory and thinking abilities in healthy children and teens to study is misguided, U.S. researchers say.

Study author Dr. William Graf of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., said some parents request doctors to prescribe attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder drugs for their children who don't meet the criteria for ADHD, to help them study for tests.

"Doctors caring for children and teens have a professional obligation to always protect the best interests of the child, to protect vulnerable populations, and prevent the misuse of medication," Graf said in a statement. "The practice of prescribing these drugs, called neuroenhancements, for healthy students is not justifiable."

The American Academy of Neurology released a position paper that provided evidence to dozens of ethical, legal, social and developmental reasons why prescribing mind-enhancing drugs, such as those for ADHD, for healthy people is viewed differently in children and adolescents than it would be in functional, independent adults with full decision-making capacities.

The article noted many reasons against prescribing these drugs including: the child's best interest; the long-term health and safety of neuroenhancements, which has not been studied in children; kids and teens lacking complete decision-making capacities while their cognitive skills, emotional abilities and mature judgments are still developing; maintaining doctor-patient trust; and the risks of over-medication and dependency.

The findings were published in the journal Neurology.

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