Article written by Professor Trevor Robbins
Virtually all effective drugs are almost bound to have some ‘adverse side-effects’ which can be the product of a drug’s non-specific modes of action, or may simply reflect effects at other receptors distal from the therapeutic target. Many of these ‘side effects’ are not serious and simply have to be tolerated by the patient. Other effects, such as sedation, for example represent a clear cost, but have to be set against the major benefits of medication. Yet other actions, which may be insidious, can in the long-term be so disadvantageous that the treatment has to be discontinued.
All of these considerations of course have to be taken especially seriously during the initial screening or trials of new compounds. Safety with drugs and other chemicals is paramount, especially when the major functions of the brain, that is to say in producing and regulating behaviour and cognition, are threatened. This is why toxicology in general and neurotoxicology in particular are nowadays considered to be applied sciences of major importance.
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