Modafinil – A detailed study

Modafinil

The drug Modafinil has a generic version which is sold commercially called Modalert. It can normally be found in online pharmacies. A company named Sun Pharmaceuticals normally manufactures this drug. It comes in 2 varieties 100mg and 200mg tablets.

Modafinil
Image by: Anders Sandberg

One of the factors contributing to the popularity of Modafinil is the very high price of Provigil, which is basically a non-generic version of Modafinil. It is counted among a popular section of compounds known as Nootropics. Because of its ability to improve memory, learning ability and a host of various other cognitive processes, it is also referred to as the smart drug. This drug was initially launched to treating the lack of alertness, strength found among people who suffering from insomnia, sleep disorders etc.

This drug was at one time also being considered for treatment of ADHD. However, the FDA has stopped that because they found that the drug was not appropriate for children. Because this drug is popular for its ability to keep people alert it is used for the treatment of conditions like sleeping for extensive periods during the day, sleeping disorders, narcolepsy etc. Various countries have various trade names for this drug like Alertec, Provigil, and Modavigil. USHA categorizes this drug as a schedule IV controlled substance and hence it cannot be obtained easily. Other countries require a prescription for buying this drug. Another trade name for this drug is Bravamax.

Previously the mechanism through which modafinil acts was not quite know. Recent revelations show that the drug primarily acts as a dopamine re-uptake inhibitor. There may be other ways in which it can act, but they have not yet come to light.

Contraindications:

Hypersensitivity and allergy are two conditions in which this drug should not be used. According to the documentation released by Cephalon, patients are strongly advised to get in touch with a doctor even before using this medicine.  People who are suffering from cardiovascular problems & cirrhosis can experience problems if they use this drug.

Side Effects:

The following is the statistics of clinical trials released by Teva Pharmaceuticals:

  • Number of people who suffered nausea – 11%
  • People suffering from insomnia , diarrhea , anxiety , gastrointestinal problems , nervousness – 10%

In some rare cases, some serious effects along with allergy-like symptoms like skin rashes have been reported. Between the period December 1998 to January 2007, six complaints of adverse impacts like erythema multiforme (EM), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), Stevens–Johnson syndrome (SJS), and DRESS syndrome on both pediatric as well as adult patients were recorded with the US Food and Drug Administration regarding this drug. Based on the above complaints an alert was issued by the FDA. FDA also added that in the post-marketing period there were also complaints of multi-organ hypersensitivity and angioedema was reported. As a result of all of these in 2007, Cephalon was ordered by FDA to change the Provigil leaflet by printing the serious issues associated with this drug in bold letters like people may suffer from TEN, DRESS syndrome, and SJS etc. Till now scientists have not been able to prove beyond doubt the effectiveness of modafinil as a long term medicine and also patient safety during long-term use of this drug.

Addiction Issues:

There is no known risk of people getting addicted to this drug. There are some commonalities between this drug and stimulants and it has been found to have mood enhancing effects even though in small degrees. This has been proved by testing the drug on monkeys and mice. As a result there has been those rare instances where reports of abuse of modafinil have been registered. Hence United States FDA categorizes modafinil as a schedule IV controlled substance. Some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with this drug is insomnia, lethargy, anxiety, anhedonia etc.

Modalert Tablet –Important factors to keep in mind:

consult a doctor
Image by: ILO in Asia and the Pacific

You must consult a doctor before using this drug. The doctor needs to know about all of our current medications including the ones that you get over the counter like supplements, vitamins etc. He / she also needs to know about any preexisting medical conditions that you may have. Based on all of the above facts , the doctor will take an informed decision about whether it would be safe for you to take this drug and in what doses. Always inform your doctor the moment you feel uncomfortable while using this drug. Here are some important points that you should keep in mind.

  • No alcohol while you are using this drug
  • No heavy machinery use once you take this drug.
  • Children below the age of 18 should not take this drug
  • No sudden stopping of the use of this drug
  • If you are allergic to this medicine do not take it
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant , then don’t use it.
  • This drug also interacts with other drugs like Ciclosporin, Carbamazepine, Azole antifungals, Aminoglutethimide, Citalopram etc. So if you are using any of these drugs do not use modafinil.

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