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Extending life brings conceptual as well as technological challenges

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 23 March 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:688
  1. Lisa Hitchen
  1. Oxford

    Pills to make healthy people happier are unlikely to be developed in the United Kingdom, because drug companies would not be able to sell them without appearing to contravene the Misuse of Drugs Act. That was a message given last week at a conference on life extension and enhancement.

    David Nutt, professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Bristol, told the conference in Oxford that scientists' understanding of pleasure responses in the brain is increasing to the point where one day it would be possible to make drugs that can make people feel happier without the associated side effects of tolerance and dependence.

    But getting the drug industry to invest in them would be difficult. “They could only be marketed at the depressed,” he said. “If they were given to the healthy they would be being sold in a recreational way. They would be seen as [coming] under the Misuse of Drugs Act, and this would be unappealing to drug companies.”

    Regulatory confusion, problems with failure of drugs, litigation, and media hostility …

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