Professor David Wright returns to sixth form
25 years after leaving Robert Smyth Grammar School, David Wright returned in February of this year to give a lecture to A level Chemistry students and teachers on the dangerous of purchasing unlicensed medicines. Titled ‘Legal highs, Quality Lows’, David used his experience of the pharmaceutical industry and regulatory processes to demonstrate the numerous steps which medicines have to go through before reaching the patient. From initial testing within human cell lines, small and large scale trials in human volunteers to the selection of the most appropriate treatment by trained healthcare professionals David attempted to demonstrate that purchasing a ‘legal high’ from either a retailer or over the internet provides none of the usual safeguards.
He finished off with the example of ‘frozen in addicts’ in the USA who had taken a poorly manufactured drug for recreational purposes and had subsequently ended up with Parkinson’s disease in their teenage years due to significant brain damage. David said of the experience ‘following very recent presentations at the school by former classmates Martin Johnson (Former England rugby captain and manager) and Tom Joules (Owner of Joules clothing) I wasn’t expecting lots of interest and therefore was delighted to find myself presenting to a large audience of engaged and interested A level students. I never thought that I would be teaching at my old school and it was a great experience. My timing was particularly poignant as the London marathon runner who died this year was from my home town and was in the local newspaper the week that I visited as it had been finally revealed that she had died after consuming a legal high to enhance her performance. This brought the message very close to home. Legal high dose not mean safe high, it just means that the law hasn’t caught up with it yet’.