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German Perspective: Commentary on “Recommendations for the Ethical Use of Pharmacologic Fatigue Countermeasures in the U.S. Military”

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Roedig E. German perspective: commentary on “recommendations for the ethical use of pharmacologic fatigue countermeasures in the U.S. military.” Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78:(5, Suppl.):B136–B137.



The human rules and values of our common western democratic society must be obeyed in context with legal and ethical aspects, as well as in an operational military environment. Even though there may be particular exceptional circumstances, the forced use of cogniceuticals is contrary to our values, and also contrary to effective cross-cultural considerations in a multinational battlefield. It is very problematic to define methods for studies to evaluate the efficiency and safety of cogniceuticals in complex and extreme operational situations. It is not clear whether a cumulative use/self-medication will have significant impact on cognitive performance and personality. The long-term effects may not be foreseen. An important aspect you mentioned is that application of a cogniceutical agent to restore function is not enhancement but rather sustainment within a homeostatic balance. As flight surgeons and medical officers, it is our special obligation to provide the best medical service for the welfare of our aircrew and soldiers during all phases of missions and deployments. Applying pharmacological agents is unjustifiable due to ethical and moral reasons, especially when it has been tried in the past, in an apparently voluntary nature. The German position is that only caffeine, with its high therapeutic index, is acceptable to maintain sustainability in an operational environment. Other enhancing drugs are strictly forbidden and also not approved by Federal authorities as medications for this indication.
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Keywords: bioethics; cogniceuticals; cognitive enhancement; countermeasures; fatigue; military; neuroethics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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