Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Dy Aungst, PharmD, is an associate professor of pharmacy practice at MCPHS University. He graduated from Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy and completed a PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at St. Luke's University Hospital, and then a Clinical Geriatric Fellowship at MCPHS University. He is passionate about the rise of technology in health care and its application to pharmacy. He has published primarily on the role of mobile technology and mHealth, and made multiple national and international presentations on those topics. He blogs at TheDigitalApothecary.com, is a Co-Host of FurtureDose.tech a podcast part of the Pharmacy Podcast Network, and you can find him on Twitter @TDAungst.
Though this sounds intriguing, these products are not regulated by the FDA because they market themselves as nutritional supplements, thus avoiding oversight. There is no real clinical evidence from a prospective trial demonstrating that the products work. Most of the research listed on websites that sell nootropics list decades-old studies or ones where the products were tested only in animals.
Recently, CNBC.com reported that one of the products, when compared with caffeine in a prospective randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial, had no real effect and that caffeine actually performed better when measuring verbal memory recall scores.1,2 In a blog post responding to CNBC.com's coverage, the company claimed that the study results were not scientific enough and therefore not reflective of the product's true potential.3
What is most interesting is the possible drug interactions or disease concerns that these products carry. Most of the systems that pharmacists use to check for interaction do not carry the ingredients in these products in their databases, so we are in the dark right now. Pharmacists should keep nootropics on their radar.
1. Farr C. This start-up raised millions to sell 'brain hacking' pills, but its own study found coffee works better. CNBC.com. cnbc.com/2017/11/30/hvmn-nootrobox-study-smart-pill-less-effective-than-caffeine.html. Published November 30, 2017. Accessed December 11, 2017.
2. ClinicalTrials.gov. The effects of SPRINT, a combination of natural ingredients, on cognition in healthy young volunteers. clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02857829?term=SPRINT+nootropic&rank=1. Accessed December 11, 2017.
3. Woo G, Brandt M. "In response to CNBC’s 'This start-up raised millions to sell 'brain hacking' pills ... '" HVMN blog post. hvmn.com/blog/in-response-to-cnbc. Accessed December 11, 2017.