Smart drugs?

How Alice would love HDC, Britain’s first company to market smart drugs. Wonderland‘s magic mushrooms pale into insignificance against the magnificent claims for smart drugs. which have belatedly arrived in Britain after sweeping fad-conscious USA where mood, memory and even intelligence can be bought in a pill. Myth or reality?

Mike McShane swears by them, along with millions of Americans, swelling the US smart drugs market to a predicted $4 billion a year by 1994. Students in California may soon be tested for smart drug detection during college exams, and there is even talk of smart-enhanced breakfast cereals. Yet Britain is still very much in the dark. Like many other kooky trends from the States, we’re less ready to jump on the bandwagon just because it’s rolling.

Whether it really is possible to boost intelligence and memory by popping a few pills is a controversial question. Critics say any positive effects are psychological, possibly even dangerous. Supporters say the results have been clinically proven. Hydergine, for example, was originally developed to lower blood pressure, and later used to treat senility. Now it’s taken to improve memory, although at around £8 a week you may prefer to junk the past.

While the compounds have been around for years, the government has yet to approve of their use. Few doctors know anything about them, and they can’t be sold over the counter. Therefore the only legal way to get hold ofthem is through

‘The whole idea of these drugs is to stimulate the mind, elevate mood and improve intelligence.’

Steve Cole, director of mail order company HDC

mail-order company HDC, using a legal clause to import the drugs from France.

As with other prescription drugs, smart drugs are easy and quick to absorb, either as pills, syrup or nasal sprays. l risked taking Lucidril, two yellow and white capsules glistening with promises ‘elevates mood, improves memory and learning, increases intelligence, and extends the lifespan of laboratory animals’. Whether human guinea pigs count as laboratory animals is unexplained, but there can’t be many rabbits and rats desperate for a prolonged sojourn in the vivisector’s cage.

I swallowed the capsules and waited for the sudden rush of inspiration. It didn‘t happen. lnstead ofwriting my first novel, I fell asleep.

4The List3—161ulyl992

Curiouser and curiouser. According to Steve Cole, director of HDC which sells the drugs, I must be very peculiar. ‘That‘s not the effect the vast majority experience, although in a small number of cases Lucidril has had adverse effects such as drowsiness and depression.‘ he explained. Dr John Henry of London’s Poisons Unit has a different prognosis. ‘You must have been tired. They have absolutely no effect, and if they become popular it will be thanks to effective marketing.’

Dr Henry has been following the

‘lt’s a bit like taking vitamins when our bodies should be capable of producing enough undertheir own steam. ll smart drugs take off in Britain they will just be making some people very rich.’ DrJohn Henry of London’s Poison Unit

development of smart drugs with interest, and not a little scepticism. While he doesn’t believe the substances are harmful he refutes any claims that they are beneficial. ‘I’ve carried out some studies myself, and found nothing to indicate that memory or intelligence can be improved. There has been research on Hydergine which shows that it may help in cases of dementia. but there‘s no evidence it will genuinely improve human performance.

‘Some compounds, such as DMAE, might help to produce acetylcholine which facilitates communication between brain cells, but it’s a bit like taking vitamins when our bodies should be capable of producing enough under their own steam. Ifsmart drugs take in Britain they will just be making some people very rich.’

Despite his critics Cole remains a true believer. He spends around £30 a month on his own supply of Hydergine and Piracetam, which is less than smokers spend to destroy their lungs. And he believes the evidence for smart drugs is incontestable. ‘The whole idea of these drugs is to stimulate the mind. elevate mood and improve intelligence. They’re not addictive and they’re not dangerous. There is no getting away from it the benefits have been proven.’

Perhaps, but I think I‘ll just stick to Ready Brek for my energy needs. (Aaron Hicklin)

Into the real world

As 12,000 students graduate from Scottish universities over the next fortnight, one in ten will be handing back the hired gown and going to Sign on the dole queue, according to careers information service CSU. Employers‘ total demand for graduates is down by a third. although a rise is forecast for next year. However, the class of ‘93 will then find themselves competing for

. jobs along with perfectly able

students from the previous two years. Among the most heavily

who received 3000 applications to their managerial training division from students, despite having no places on offer. Meanwhile. of the 3500 who applied to Mars for work. all but 15 were told to rest or play instead.

More locally, Strathclyde Police had received over 200 applications by their closing deadline of 29 June. many from locally-based final year Chemistry and Biology students for

1 two vacant positions in the forensic


annualslabofmoney totalling

over-subscribed employers was Shell 5

- with 10,000 applicants across Britain for 150 places and Asda.

3 reward for having to examine

laboratory. The job involves

examining evidence in a wide range

ol crimes involving assault, drugs I and even murder. At least the I

corpses. which the police themselves refer to as ‘slabs of meat‘. is an

between £9600 and £20,100, depending on seniority. (Michael Paterson)


The once promising prospect of Britain’s filth television channel being based north of the border appears to have vanished alter the announcement that the second of two groups aiming to bring the station to Scotland has abandoned its plans. The Channel S

' consortium - led by lormer managing

director of Channel 4, Justin Dukes, and backed by Edinburgh District Council and Lothan Regional Council - decided that the new licence did not offer ‘sutiicient prolitability’. The loss of the Channels proposal lollows the withdrawal last month at a bid backed by Italian media entrepreneur Silvio Berlusconi. (AM)

Rector threat

Glasgow rector Pat Kane has condemned the University court’s decision to call for a reduction of the influential role played by the rector. Last issue. The List reported that Edinburgh University was attempting to change the law that allowed the democratically elected rector to chair court meetings. opting instead to elect the chairperson from the court‘s lay membership.

‘Scottish traditions and Scottish democracy are being denied.’ said Kane. It is no secret that Kane

ruffled the university authorities’ robes when he staged a walk-out last week at a ceremony where former Tory MP George Younger was being awarded an honorary degree.

The proposal now requires the support of Scotland‘s two other ancient universities, St Andrews and Aberdeen. On Saturday 27 June, however, graduate members ofSt Andrews General Council decided that they favoured the decision to have the rector retain the chair. It now remains to be seen whether or not the Fife university's court treats the advice ofits graduates seriously. (AM)

Harping on

Harpies and Quines, the new Scottish feminist magazine launched on 8 May, is being attacked by upmarket title Harpers and Queen. A mere linguistic quibble one might think, but as far as the glossy society mag is concerned, it's all-out legal war on the independent Scottish title. Binks Stern, solicitors lor Harpers and Queen’s publishers National Magazines, have sent missives flying north of the border ever since the Glasgow-based Harpies hit the shelves; and last week, claiming to be worried about the threat to its ‘brand identity', Harpers demanded that the Scots change their mag’s name or court action would follow.

As tar as the collective behind Harpies and Quines is concerned, it’s business as usual. As Glasgow Maryhill MP Maria Fyle commented, ‘ll the owners of Harpers and Queen seriously think there could be any contusion, then it doesn't say much lor their estimates of their own readers’ brains.’ However, maybe there’s more

than the pettiness ot language at stake. Harpers and Queen have a regular Scottish distribution of 4000; Harpies and Quines have already sold out of its 6000 print run. Nevertheless, Issue 2 will be available from 28 July at selected bookshops and newsagents, or by subscription from PO Box 543, Glasgow, 020 SEN at £7 (unwaged), £14(waged), £21 (organisations) and £28 (supporters). (Alan Morrison)