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Modafinil from 1970 until Today

Provigil, Modavigil, Modiodal, Modalert, Modvigil...?

Modafinil (chemically referred to as 2-[(diphenylmethyl)sulfinyl]acetamide) is a drug developed by neurophysiology medicine professor Michel Jouvet and Lafon Laboratories in France. Though most commonly called Modafinil, it is sold worldwide under various brand names such as Provigil (sold in UK, Croatia, Poland, Hong Kong, Italy, South Korea, Thailand, UAE), Modavigil (sold in Australia), Modiodal (sold in France, Japan, Singapore), Modalert, Modapro, Modvigil (all three sold in India), Modasomil (sold in Switzerland), and SpierX (sold in Malaysia).

It is a powerful stimulant that not only improves memory, intellectual keenness, and other mental activities, but is incredibly efficient at restoring your brains cognitive functions during times of decreased wakefulness.

The drug works by inducing your body to increase the production of monoamines, which are specific neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters stimulate the hypothalamus, which is responsible for producing hormones that control sleep and the circadian rhythm, among several other things.

Developed to treat symptoms of narcolepsy (episodes of uncontrollable sleep), it helps restore alertness and fight tiredness and fatigue.

Early Development

Modafinil was originally synthesized in the 1970’s in France. After studies were completed in 1986, it was observed that not only was this drug effective for treating narcolepsy, it also temporarily reduced the need to sleep in healthy patients.

In 1993, Lafon Laboratories leased the rights to Modafinil to a company in the United States called Cephalon. After 5 years, it was officially FDA approved and sold under the name Provigil as a remedy against narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea.

In 2007, the FDA approved Armodafinil, hitherto sold as Nuvigil. Armodafinil is technically considered an enantiomer of Modafinil. Armodafinil solely consists of the (R)-enatiomer, which is the active component of Modafinil. This new formula was marketed to offset the financial losses caused by a market soon to be flooded with cheap generic drugs, as Cephalon was expecting to lose the exclusive marketing rights for Modafinil. Armodafinil was to be used as a treatment for narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and obstructive sleep apnea.

In 2010, the FDA turned down a request by Cephalon to market Nuvigil as the first pharmaceutical treatment for jet lag.

Primary Indications

Modafinil’s primary indication is for the treatment of narcolepsy, however it is often prescribed for those with attention deficit disorder, treatment-resistant depression, other antidepressant therapies, and multiple sclerosis (MS). Exploratory studies are also turning up promising results for the drug’s possible benefits in remedying depressive symptoms.

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable daytime sleepiness that is caused by the a lack of orexin peptides in the brain, which are responsible for controlling wakefulness and sleep-suppression. Modafinil targets these orexin neurons and activates them, which in turn promotes wakefulness.

Other common illnesses and diseases it is used to treat include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy, and Parkinson’s disease.