More test takers in China are turning to prescription stimulants for an edge on the recently instated fitness requirement on key exams such as the national civil servants exam and the national college entrance exam, or gaokao.
According to Chinese media reports, test candidates are increasingly buying analeptics, which cover a wide variety of medications prescribed to treat respiratory diseases to conditions such as depression and ADHD.
Authorities are struggling to monitor the sales and purchases of such drugs online, wrote Jing Yishan, a commentator with Chinese newspaper the Guangming Daily. Jing argued this is because students often buy from vendors on social media, who market them as brain and health supplements.
In February 2018, China’s Food and Drug Administration issued draft regulations for sales of medications online, which charges local food and drug authorities with monitoring. However, lawmakers have since been in deadlock over which medications would be subject to scrutiny.
As a result, there is a growing gray market which authorities cannot properly supervise, Jing wrote.
Short of subjecting every test taker to drug tests, Jing suggested that food and drug authorities should instead strengthen supervision of prescription drugs through cooperation with social media platforms, for example.