redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Students at one UK university will be using cocaine in the name of science — specifically, they will be participating in a clinical study to better understand how the substance impacts the human body.
The research will be taking place at King´s College London, where hundreds of undergraduate students have received emails inviting them to participate in a study “involving nasal administration” of the Class A drug, London Evening Standard reporters Benjamin Russell and Maxine Frith wrote on Friday.
Participants in the study will be asked to provide biological samples, including blood, urine, hair, sweat, and saliva, on multiple occasions and will not be allowed to cut or die their hair for a four-month follow-up period, they explained. Those who take part will be rewarded with “reasonable financial compensation” for their time and expenses.
Those who are involved in recreational drug use are barred from taking part in the study, which has been approved by the London Westminster Research Ethics Committee and will be supervised by medical professionals at the Guy’s and St. Thomas´ Hospital clinical toxicology department, Russell and Frith added.
Furthermore, according to The Telegraph, medical and dental students are also barred from taking part in the study, which is only open to men between the ages of 25 and 40. The trial, the newspaper reports, will involve seven hospital visits over a 120 day period and will begin with a suitability screening during the first stage.
“This is an important scientific study to investigate how cocaine and its metabolites are spread through the human body,” a university spokesman told reporters. “All the relevant ethical approvals were received for this study. The study will be conducted under the highest level of medical supervision in a dedicated clinical research suite.”
“The email has already attracted online comments and jokes from students,” said Russell and Frith. “The university has a reputation for research into the use and effects of illegal drugs, including studies into the genetic causes of addiction and papers on whether certain substances should be legalized.”
They report that an estimated 700,000 UK residents used cocaine in 2012, making it the second most popular illegal drug behind only marijuana.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there were approximately 1.9 million Americans who were current cocaine users in 2008, with most of them in the 18- to 25-year-old age group.