What amnesia drug…?

Forget all your troubles, as a US police department tries Men In Black-style memory wiping to subdue difficult suspects...

SHADO and (inset) the Men In Black - with the power to make you forget...

Having only last week mentioned both the ‘amnesia drug’ of Gerry Anderson’s UFO and the memory-wiping ‘neuraliser’ unit of the Men In Black movies, I felt I was writing from the relative safety of science-fiction. Not so. In Nashville, Tennessee, it turns out there are a whole bunch of cops who ‘won’t let you remember’ (no singing).

According to WMTV, metro cops in Nashville have had the choice to use a sedative injection in order to subdue aggressive arrestees for two years. The drug is called Midazolam, but is better known as ‘Versed’. It’s commonly used in colonoscopies, to ease the patients’ discomfort…by making them forget all about it.

Biomedical ‘ethics and law enforcement expert’ Dr. Steven Miles claims that “The drug has an amnesia effect, and we use that therapeutically because one of the nice ways to take care of the discomfort is to make people forget that they’ve had it.”

Miles also says that there is ‘no validated protocol’ for this application of Versed in matters of law-enforcement. “There’s not even a clear set of indications for when this is to be used except when people are agitated…”.

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Metro are not divulging the names of the eight suspects or detainees who have been subjected to the drug, citing patient-privacy issue. Although use of the drug on women of child-bearing age is contra-indicated as a hazard to the foetus of a pregnant woman, Versed is stated in the report to have last been used on a female in early June, and has been used on three females of child-bearing age since the policy was in place.

The use of memory-erasing drugs in science-fiction is fairly common, particularly in the work of Philip K. Dick, and films such as Vanilla Sky and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind have treated of the subject of induced amnesia. In Gerry Anderson’s 1970 science-fiction show UFO, an unnamed ‘amnesia drug’ was used to wipe memory of the public’s contact with the secret organisation SHADO, whilst the Men In Black comics and movies favoured a less-invasive flash of light that could be calibrated to remove a precise amount of memory, from minutes to years preceding the treatment.

The American Civil Liberties union have cited complete ignorance of the use of Versed as departmental policy for Nashville metro, and the public seem to have been unaware of the matter as well. Perhaps they used to know about it, though…

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