06 May

Latin America doesn’t like Modafinil

Here at modafinil.co.uk we focus on Modafinil in the Anglophone world, which is host to a diverse array of opinions. Due to the fact that more users and more news outlets have touched on modafinil, all possible angles have been covered, from negative aspects to the positive ones. This abundance of information allows us to formulate balanced opinions about modafinil.

In other parts of the world where the smart-drug nootropic craze has only recently arrived and in much smaller numbers, army-like resistance is being put up. Particularly in Chile where drug laws are strict compared to other South American countries, the pushback is powerful.

Schools south of the Equator tend to begin their year in March after the southern hemisphere’s winter. Just in time for school, the journal Economy and Business of Chile released a warning for school staff and students to watch out for students taking drugs to get adjusted to the rigorous school methods. It’s worth mentioning that Chilean students often study from 8 AM to 4 PM in many schools and the classes are designed to be demanding with large amounts of homework.

The sentiments were echoed a day later by Chilean news outlet Bio Bio. Bio Bio is one of Chile’s largest news networks also holds the country’s widest radio coverage. The article, however, is possibly some of the worst scare tactic writing I’ve ever witnessed. The title of their article is “The dangers of consuming this marvelous pill that makes students perform.” Bio Bio openly admits that the pill makes students perform, but then goes on to list every possible negative side effect that could ever happen, ignoring their minuscule probability.

What’s worse, the article even mentions side effects that aren’t real. The article says that “As modafinil produces blurred vision sometimes, you shouldn’t drive if you take it.” This is an outright false claim which has never been demonstrated in any of the dozens of clinical trials, nor is it one of the FDA warnings.

Another Spanish language article from the BBC is called “My nightmare with pills called smart pills.”  What was the nightmare? A little bit of dehydration headaches that came after the user admitted to not drinking enough. Where was the horror story here? His first day was a complete success. The second day he discovered that modafinil can make you focus on the wrong things, and instead of working around it, gave up after his third day resulted in headaches. Both of his problems were completely avoidable, but instead of doing things right, he blames the pill.

This type of shoddy journalism is harmful to the truth, and I for one take offense to it. Talking about side effects is fine, and this blog has never once shied away from discussing the subject. But good reporting cites studies, gives the probability of the side effects, and doesn’t invent lies out of thin air or attach a horrific title to a benign story.

So why are the articles found in Spanish so one-sidedly negative? A big part of it is culture. Latin American countries tend to have much more conservative views about drugs and medicine in general. Pill culture is less dominant as it is in the US or the UK, where taking a pill is perfectly normal. Natural medicine is often recommended. For instance, in Peru students are frequently given a cup of tea to deal with a headache instead of a simple painkiller like Tylenol. Where Anglophone nations applaud their medical innovations, people in Latin America lean more towards home remedies and things their mother would suggest.