What is Modafinil?

Modafinil is a medication used for treating excessive sleepiness caused by shift work disorders, sleep apnea and narcolepsy. According to the researchers at Oxford and Harvard University, this medication is the world’s first safe “smart drug”. It works by altering the natural chemicals in the brain and promoting wakefulness.

Marketed in more than 20 countries, Modafinil is sold under the brand names Provigil, Alertec and Modavigil. This medication is being sold in the USA since 1998 under the name Provigil and in France since 1994 under the name Modiodal.

It is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance in the United States of America and in most other countries; it is sold as a prescription drug. Importing this medicine to anyone other than a DEA-registered importer without a prescription is illegal but one can certainly bring this medicine into the United States if they have a prescription for it.

When was it developed?
Originally, Modafinil was developed in France by Michel Jouvet, a neurophysiologist and medicine professor in association with Lafon Laboratories. It originated in late 1970s with the invention of various benzhydryl sulfinyl compounds, including adrafinil (a discontinued wake-fullness promoting agent). Modafinil is basically the primary metabolite of adrafinil and much more widely used.

In 1998, this medication was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating narcolepsy. Later in 2003, it was approved for treatment of hypopnea/obstructive sleep apnea and shift work sleep disorder.

Off-label Use of Modafinil
When it comes to off-label use, Modafinil has been found to treat fatigue and sedation in many conditions such as depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, spastic cerebral palsy and opioid-induced sleepiness. It has also been used off-label as a purported cognition-enhancing agent.

Modafinil has been evaluated with scopolamine or alone as a medication for anti-motion sickness. When taken in combination with scopolamine, it helped in reducing symptoms of drowsiness associated with scopolamine.


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