Smart drugs worth £200,000 seized in the UK

A haul of “smart drugs” with a street value of £200,000 has been seized in the UK. The drugs, known as cognitive enhancers, are typically taken by students wishing to boost their performance. 

More than 20,000 items including 13 different types of drugs such as Noopept, phenylpiracetam, centrophenoxine, oxiracetam, sunifiram, citicoline and aniracetam, were discovered by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), it announced on 24 October 2014. 

The raid, which took place in Burton-Upon-Trent, came after an investigation by the MHRA following up on intelligence from the Norwegian Medicines Agency which had confiscated a number of packages traced back to an unlicensed online smart drug retailer. 

Alastair Jeffrey, head of enforcement at the MHRA, described the increasing popularity of smart drugs as a “worrying trend” and reiterated the dangers of taking smart drugs — a risk compounded by buying products online. 

Barbara Sahakian, a professor of clinical neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge, warned that there were no long-term studies into the side-effects of these drugs. 

“I am extremely concerned that young people are accessing these cognitive enhancing drugs via the internet, which is very unsafe as it is unclear what the drug sent actually contains,” she said. 

Under UK law, it is not illegal to possess cognitive enhancer drugs but it is an offence to sell or supply unlicensed or prescription-only medicines via an unlicensed retailer.

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 8 November 2014, Vol 293, No 7835;293(7835):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20066977