Customs authorities of East China’s Jiangsu Province recently seized 1,000 state-controlled psychotropic pills from India, which were widely taken by examinees as “smart pills,” especially those who are going to take the national college entrance examination on Friday.
Customs officers in Jinling district, Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu, recently seized 500 Ritalin and 500 Amodafinil pills in the mail from India, the General Administration of Customs announced on its WeChat account on Monday.
The pills are prescription drugs used for sleep disorders. They are widely considered as “smart pills” by examinees that can increase cognitive competence and attention and boost academic achievements in a short time.
The customs administration warned that healthy people will not actually become smarter after taking the pills. They will probably suffer from several side effects, including headache, nausea, insomnia and memory loss. Long-term use of the pills can even caused addiction.
“Do not trust rumors of ‘smart pills’ on the internet. And be sure not to illegally mail psychotropic pills in and out of the country,” said the administration, noting that patients whose pills have been seized can take the pills back by providing a prescription.
The announcement came amid reports on social media that many parents are buying “smart pills” for their children as the national college entrance examination approaches. Some illegal dealers even said there was a storage shortage, media reported.
A Global Times reporter previously reached a dealer surnamed Liu. Liu said the drugs he sold were smuggled from the US, Pakistan and Switzerland. US Ritalin is sold at 1,400 yuan ($209) for 50 pills; Pakistani Ritalin goes for 390 yuan for 30 and Swiss Ritalin 460 yuan for 20.
A growing number of overseas purchasing agencies have made it more difficult to crack down on smuggled drugs, Hua Zhendong, technical director of the China National Narcotics Control Commission’s national narcotics laboratory, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
The main ingredient in the “smart pills” is methylphenidate, a central nervous system stimulant that is a strictly managed psychotropic medication both in China and abroad.
Methylphenidate is a mild central stimulant compared with methamphetamine, but is still addictive, Hua said while noting that long-term use of the drug can cause anxiety and manic depression.
In China, stimulants like Ritalin can only be prescribed by hospitals to children under 14 years old and diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, media reported.