Safety vs. Restricting Rights

December 5, 2011

Political Theory


I’ve been staring at a blank screen for five minutes while my mind drifts far off topic. As I sit on a folded-down futon with my back against the hard wall of a Markley dorm room it is clear that productivity left me long ago. It’s four in the morning and sleep-deprivation is taking effect; what normally would take me an hour is taking two, and with three hours of an essay remaining my night is shaping up to be sleepless. I turn to my right to see my friend furiously typing away at a reading response and ask, “How are you still working?” He doesn’t hear me. Giving him a nudge and asking again he snaps out of his trance, and answers with the same word being whispered on college campuses around the nation. “Adderall.”

The U.S. National Library of Medicine describes Adderall as, “The Combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine is used as part of a treatment program to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; more difficulty focusing, controlling actions, and remaining still or quiet than other people who are the same age) in adults and children.”  Rather scholarly and scientific sounding right? On campus it takes a bit of a different shape (the following quotes are taken from urbandictionary.com) being defined as, “The only way to finish homework” “The blue pill that, once you snort it, you can’t get enough of that shit” and “The reason that every teenager, college kid, and meth head suddenly has ADHD.” To say that there are different opinions on the drug is an understatement, but whether you curse or praise Adderall there’s no denying the government is responsible for its legality.

The “study drug” (as it is commonly called) has had a rocky history in the medical field. The little pills common side effects include dizziness, headache, loss of appetite, nervousness, stomach pain, vomiting, weakness, and that’s without delving into the severe side effects. In 2005, Canada took Adderall off the market due to a concern of sudden unexpected death in children. To top it off ADD and ADHD, the conditions that Adderall is designed to treat are controversial topics in the medical field, as some professionals don’t believe they exist. While these arguments continue to take place millions of people fill up their prescription every year.

Obtaining an Adderall prescription isn’t exactly sneaking into Fort Knox, and those that aren’t prescribed generally buy it from a friend that is. As numerous signs highlight potential health risks one must wonder: Where is the government in this situation? Despite the lack of long-term medical studies on Adderall it remains a candy that college kids in a time-crunch can’t get enough of.

Controversial drugs, such as Adderall, serve as a vehicle to examine the restrictions, or lack thereof, on the pharmaceutical drugs we consume. Should Adderall be taken off the market until studies can determine its long-term health risks? At what point does the FDA’s concern for safety turn into a restriction on our rights as American citizens?

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2 Comments on “Safety vs. Restricting Rights”

  1. finkelbr Says:

    This “study drug” is everywhere around campus just as you said. Over half of my friends are prescribed and take it on a daily basis. I must admit that I also know a lot of people who are not prescribed who buy these pills on finals week, before midterms, or whenever they have a workload so big they just do not think they can naturally accomplish it all. From what I have seen and heard there have been no real harmful side effects. I am far from a doctor, but as I said I know a lot of people who take it, prescribed and not prescribed, who have never complained of anything more than just a loss of appetite. That being said, I do think that most people do not really understand the ingredients of the drug. I do not think that people really think twice before popping the concentration pill. This in itself should be somewhat concerning. I do not think that Adderall should be taken off the market. I do think that people should be better informed about the pill. Although I have not heard of any real serious cases, aside from that one you mentioned, I still think it is a good idea for anyone to be somewhat knowledgeable on any type of medication they are going to take. I think your second question is almost impossible to answer. I do not think we could possibly gauge whether the FDA is being “too safe” or whether they are actually infringing on our rights. I say this because either way there will be such strong opposing arguments. How can one measure whether they are being ‘too safe” or not and who would measure this?. I think the FDA does a good job, for the most part, of deciding what should and should not be on the market and regulating what is.

  2. keroboim Says:

    I, too, have hear the word “Adderall” mentioned many times during my time here. I think this drug enables students to convince themselves they suffer from ADD or ADHD, whether they think there is a good chance they suffer from the disorder or just want to well in school. Additionally, it enables parents to have a more relaxed attitude towards parenthood as they can better control their young children by believing they can get rid of undesirable behavior through the use of Adderall. While I do not suffer from the disorder, I am sure there are many people who do and I am in no position to say there is no such thing as ADD or ADHD.

    I am not sure if government is aware of the extent of Adderall abuse. They may have an idea – I have heard it is harder to get prescribed Adderall and physicians are required to meet with individuals who hold a prescription to this drug at regular intervals. But until it becomes a severe problem, I do not believe action will be taken by the FDA. To my knowledge, I don’t think the FDA’s job is to control the distribution of drugs but only to make sure drugs on the market are safe for users. Unless the FDA can prove that there are significant side effects from the use of these drugs, they will not be able to take the drug off the market, especially after drug companies that produce Adderall and close substitutes have spent billions in research and development. Moreover, if there was substantial evidence supporting negative effects of the drug, the FDA would not have approved it in the first place, fearing costly lawsuits from affected individuals. Also, drug companies are making millions and billions of dollars from the distribution of such drugs. As time passes, any long term effects of these drugs will come to light and when this happens, the FDA will act accordingly.

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