News - October 3, 2019


Vincent Oostvogels

I always thought the study drug — a pill that helps you concentrate — was a mythical product. A bit like the anti-hangover drip: a nice idea but too absurd to actually have been developed. Until someone was talking about the pill recently and I decided to google it.

It turned out to be all over the internet.* In fact, some study drugs can be bought at high-street pharmacists and there are apparently even universities that have vending machines with the drug. The use of these pills has been growing for years among students.

It seems studying these days is like professional cycling in the 1990s

I was rather shocked at first. It seems studying these days is like professional cycling in the 1990s — performance-enhancing drugs all round. And there I was, stupid enough to spend all that time cycling on nothing stronger than a peanut butter sandwich!

Fortunately a reassuring interview with Marcel Bouvy, professor of Pharmacy at Utrecht University, was published last month. He said what you might have expected: the study drug is a rip-off. There is no proof whatsoever that it helps you to concentrate.

Wasn’t studying supposed to be about learning to think critically? How ironic that some people resort to quacks to help them do this.

Vincent Oostvogels (22) is exploring the delicate interface between nature management and food production through his two Master’s programmes, Forest and Nature Conservation and Animal Sciences

* That made me wonder how absurd the anti-hangover drip actually is. I did a search and found it does exist, although you have to go to the States for it.