Provigil, which is the brand name for the drug Modafinil, is one of a class of medications referred to as wakefulness promoting agents.
Provigil is used for the treatment of excessive sleepiness due to narcolepsy, work shift disorder and obstructive sleep apnea. A 2009 study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that the drug stimulates the brain’s dopamine centers. The drug’s dopamine effect is similar to that of Ritalin, making it a potential substance for abuse.
The Poster Child for “Off Label” Drug Experimentation
In the U.S., Modafinil is only approved by FDA for the treatment of lack of sleep due to sleep disorders. However, the drug is being tried for a wide range of off-label applications, including the treatment of fatigue and depression. It has been studied as a potential treatment for fatigue symptoms of multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Provigil/Modafinil was featured in a documentary called Off Label which was about the “non approved” or “non intended” use of medications.
Cephalon, the maker of Provigil, applied for FDA approval for modafinil as a treatment for ADHD in children and teenagers ages 6 through 17. The application was denied in 2006, with the FDA citing concerns about several test subjects who were affected by serious skin rashes. Cephalon is reported to have discontinued research into modafinil as an ADHD treatment for children; there is still some potential for its use in treating adults with ADHD.
Provigil Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
Experiments have been conducted to determine if Modafinil could be an effective treatment for cocaine dependence, but the results have so far been inconclusive. Since Modafinil is a stimulant that decreases the appetite without typically increasing the heart rate, there have also been studies to see if it could be used as a weight loss aid.
Modafinil has been the subject of negative publicity due to its reported use as a doping agent for professional athletes, including sprinter Kelli White and cyclist David Clinger. In 2004, it was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances.
Abusing Provigil like Ritalin and Adderall
There is also some controversy associated with Provigil’s use as a cognitive enhancer for people who are not suffering from sleep deprivation. According to Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on drug Abuse, there are currently no statistics related to the number of people who are using Modafinil as a brain booster. Dr. Volkow warns that healthy people who take Modafinil are at risk of serious adverse side effects, including psychotic episodes and suicidal thoughts.