Provigil (modafinil), an abbreviation that comes from the words “promotes vigilance,” is the name of a prescription medicine used to improve wakefulness in adults who experience excessive sleepiness. Since 1998, Provigil has been FDA-approved for treating excessive obstructive sleep apnea, shift work sleep disorder, and narcolepsy. In addition, Provigil has many off-label uses, including the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, cocaine addiction, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and disease-related fatigue.

How Provigil Works

At this time, it is not known exactly how Provigil works to promote wakefulness. While Provigil’s effects are similar to the effects of stimulants, such as caffeine and amphetamines, Provigil is different from stimulants in two main ways. To begin with, Provigil does not perk up the entire central nervous system or dramatically increase levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with arousal and alertness.

In addition, although stimulants frequently cause jitters, insomnia, addiction, and a need for “rebound sleep” to balance sleep debt, Provigil is less likely to cause these effects. In fact, Provigil allows people to return to their normal sleep schedules when the pills wear off. The key advantage to Provigil is that users normally show no need to compensate for the sleep they lose while taking the drug.

General Precautions with Provigil

Provigil affects the central nervous system, which means it can cause side effects that may impair patients’ thinking or reactions. As a result, Provigil users should not drive or do anything that requires them to be alert while taking the medication. In addition, Provigil users should avoid all other dangerous activities until they know how the medication will affect them.

Patients should stop taking Provigil and call a doctor immediately if they develop a skin rash, no matter how mild the rash is. In some cases, a medicine similar to Provigil has caused severe skin reactions serious enough to require hospitalization. Signs that a Provigil patient may be having a severe skin reaction include:

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • vomiting with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash

If you or a family member took Provigil and experienced an adverse side effect, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.  Contact us today to learn more.

Published November 17, 2011 by