Armodafinil and Modafinil is there really a difference in these similar sounding drugs? Or is the only difference in the name? What if the drug manufacturers changed the names and the drugs are really the same? What if this whole advertising controversy is a hoax so the companies can make more money? I doubt that is what is happening. Let’s define the two drugs and then compare them.
It is a drug that promotes wakefulness in other words you consume this drug and you will not go to sleep. It is also known as a eugeroic (Eugeroics are drugs that reduce the need for sleep. They’re claimed to deliver an alert and wakeful state that feels natural without the side effects of earlier types of stimulant. The best known is modafinil, though the earlier drug adrafinil and the newer armodafinil also belong in the same group.) which treat such disorders as narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and excessive daytime sleepiness related to obstructive sleep apnea. So, if you have any of these disorders and you are tired of sleepwalking this drug may be for you. Or it may not be. Let’s dig a little further and see what we think about this drug. Unofficially it is advertised as a cognition-enhancing agent which could be true or not. In English speaking countries it is sold under the brand names Alertec, Modavigil, and Provigil. In the United States it is classified as a schedule IV controlled substance (This is the list of Schedule IV drugs as defined by the United States Controlled Substances Act. … The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.) this means that there is a low risk of someone becoming addicted to the drug.
Furthermore the drug is restricted in the United States as having the possibility (however low) of being addictive. Dome countries sell it as a prescription drug and in Egypt it is sold over- the-counter drug and is called Bravamax. Originally the effects of the drug were unknown but now the effects are that it acts like a weak a standard dopamine reuptake inhibitor. There seems to be other effects from this drug at play now as well. This is cautionary but the “European Medicines Agency” has recommended the drug be used only for people with the sleep-induced disorder narcolepsy. This drug is sounding more dangerous. The European Agency advised the drug’s use be limited to new prescriptions that only treat narcolepsy. This is because it has adverse skin hypersensitivity issues and it may cause severe psychiatric effects.
The drug has also been used for the off label use of treating neurological fatigue associated with multiple sclerosis. There was a study conducted in 2000 by “Cephalon” involving 72 people with varying degrees of multiple sclerosis were treated with modafinil for brain fatigue.
They were treated with two versions of modafinil and an inactive placebo. Those who were treated with the lower dose of modafinil reported that the fatigue was noticeably reduced than those who took the placebo. Those who consumed the higher dose reported that their fatigue levels were not affected. No-label modafinil is also used for depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, opioid-induced sleepiness, spastic cerebral palsy, and Parkinson’s disease. Supposedly, modafinil is effective in treating daytime somnolence and fatigue in primary biliary cirrhosis.
Modafinil a Military Favorite
It is recorded that militaries in several countries have expressed interest in using modafinil instead of amphetamines for their soldiers when they experience sleep deprivation on long journeys. Especially for combat situations where it is said that soldiers need to be on high alert at all times and this usually means by the help of taking stimulants. The French government said that the French foreign legion used modafinil in certain covert operations. The British ministry of defence invested money in the feasibility of their soldiers taking modafinil;QinetiQ and spent 300,000 pounds on one investigation. In 2011 the Indian Air Force announced that modafinil will be included in their contingency plans. In the United States military has approved modafinil for certain Air Force missions and is being considered for other uses. As of November 2012 modafinil is the only drug approved for fatigue management. The Air Force no longer approves dexedrine. Surprisingly, the “Canadian Medical Association Journal” reports that their astronauts took modafinil for long term missions abroad the international space station. It is said to help with the fatigue astronauts experience because of the lack of quality sleep. It also helps helps with the disruptions in circadian rhythms.
In documentation distributed by Teva Pharmaceuticals one-third of participants in clinical studies experienced experiencing headaches; 11% reported nausea; other negative side-effects such as nervousness, diarrhea, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, and gastrointestinal problems were reported by fewer than 10% of participants. Other more severe effects reported were skin rashes and other symptoms that were thought to be allergy-related. It was reported from the initial December 1998, to January 30, 2007, the the US Food and Drug Administration became aware of six cases of severe cutaneous(relating to or affecting the skin.) adverse reactions associated with modafinil, which included erythema multiforme (EM), Stevens–Johnson syndrome (SJS), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), and DRESS syndrome, involving adult and pediatric patients. The chances of becoming addicted to the drug are very low. It does act as some drugs do in the fact that it does enhance the mood but to a much lesser degree than the other mood enhancing drugs.
Tolerance and Overdose Potential
Therapeutic doses have been administered in studies anywhere from 40 weeks to 3 years and the tolerance potential to be non-existent. In mice and rats the median lethal dose (LD50) means(the amount of a toxic agent as a poison, virus, or radiation) that is sufficient to kill 50 percent of a population of animals usually within a certain time—called also median lethal dose.) which is measured at approximately or slightly greater than 1250 mg/kg of modafinil. The oral amount LD50 reported for rats range from 1000–3400 mg/kg and taken intravenously the LD50 for dogs of modafinil 300 mg/kg.
Clinical studies conducted on humans found that up to 1200 mg/day from7-21 days and one time acute overdoses of up to 4500 mg/day did not show any acute effects but many adverse effects were observed such as excitation or agitation, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, aggressiveness, confusion, nervousness, tremor, palpitations, sleep disturbances, nausea, and diarrhea. As of 2004 the FDA hasn’t had any reports of fatal overdoses from modafinil.
What about Armodafinil
Armodafinil is known by the trade name of Nuvigil. It is the enantiopure compound of the wakefulness-promoting agent, or eugeroic, modafinil (Provigil). It is produced by the pharmaceutical company Cephalon Inc. and it was approved by the FDA i 2007. In 2016 the Fda granted Mylan rights to produce the first generic version Cephalon’s Nuvigil to be marketed in the U.S. Both armodafinil and modafinil have the same half- lives but armodafinil reaches it peak concentration later in the blood than modafinil which may make a more effective at improving wakefulness in people who have excessive daytime sleepiness.
Currently, this drug is used to treat excessive daytime sleepiness with obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and shift work disorder. It has been commonly used off-label to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, and major depressive disorder. It may effectively stimulate more vigilance in air traffic controllers. The F has further approved armodafinil to treat sleeping disorders like narcolepsy and shift work sleep disorder, and as an adjuvant therapy for obstructive sleep apnea. For narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea about 150 mg or 250 mg once in the morning. Shift work sleep disorder 150 mg of armodafinil is taken one hour prior to starting work. Slow dose titration is needed to control some side effects.
In 2010 it was revealed that a phase II study of armodafinil as an adjunctive therapy in adults with schizophrenia did not meet the desired outcome. So the studies were canceled but a study published later that year showed that patients with schizophrenia treated with this drug showed reduced symptoms of the personality disorder. The drug reduced the symptoms of schizophrenia but it was not powerful enough to completely alleviate the symptoms or stop the disorder completely. The bottomline i the drug is not an effective cure for schizophrenia. The FDA in March, 2010 denied that armodafinil could be used to treat jet lag.
Side Effects and Overdose Effects
In placebo-controlled studies the possible side effects of, armodafinil, are headache, xerostomia (dry mouth), nausea, dizziness, and insomnia.Other possible side effects also include depression, anxiety, hallucinations, euphoria, extreme increase in activity and talking, anorexia, tremor, thirst, rash, suicidal thoughts, and aggression. Suicidal thoughts and aggression are not minor side effects they could have serious repercussions.
Overdose symptoms include Symptoms of an overdose on armodafinil include trouble sleeping, restlessness, confusion, disorientation, feeling excited, mania, hallucinations, nausea, diarrhea, severely increased or decreased heart beat, chest pain, and increased blood pressure. These overdose symptoms are minor in comparison with other drugs of the same nature. But severely increased or decreased heartbeat, increased blood pressure could be fatal. So be aware of these two side effects if you ever decide to take this drug.
Differences between Armodafinil and Modafinil
Take note that are notable differences between the two. Armodafinil is stronger than modafinil. Armodafinil is pure R-modafinil which is the most potent psychoactive compound in modafinil. It sounds like modafinil has other active ingredients in it besides R-modafinil which would naturally make it weaker than armodafinil. This is why armodafinil drugs (such as nuvigil, artvigil, waklert) are made in lower doses than modafinil. Then it seems that armodafinil is more addictive than modafinil because it is much stronger.
Most of the research has been conducted using modafinil as opposed to the other drug. Modafinil is a synthetic drug used to fight fatigue in sleep deprived individuals. One 2011 study showed that 48 Navy air controllers who took modafinil had fewer lapses than those who did not take the drug. Another study involving military personnel who stayed awake for 64 straight hours. The study found that modafinil was as effective as amphetamines for sustaining cognitive abilities and mood.
The editor of the Nootropedia site said that he experienced a difference when he took the two drugs. He says that both modafinil and armodafinil gave him long stretches of enhanced mental energy and he stayed awake for long periods of time. But he did say that he experienced more side effects with armodafinil than modafinil. The editor shared that 5 to6 hours after taking armodafinil he experienced chest pains. The chest pains were so intense he had a hard time breathing. He tried going on long walks and many other things but nothing would alleviate the chest pain. Actually, the pain did not stop until the next day, This is a pretty serious side effect because he was having trouble breathing. This could simulate a heart attack. It could have turned fatal for him.
Another user who tried both modafinil and armodafinil related an interesting tale. This person said they took 150 mg of armodafinil and 200 mg of modafinil (not at the same time) and the results were quite telling. He goes on to say both provided extended wakefulness but he liked the modafinil better than the armodafinil. The modafinil feeling fresh and crisp like you would feel after a sound night of sleep. Th armodafinil made him feel anxious and unfortunately his heart rate shot through the roof. The potential for a heart attack was real.
Another client who tried both said the complete opposite. The person became very irritable when they took the modafinil and they snapped at other people over relatively minor things. They took the armodafinil and the only minor side effect they had was a dry mouth. They simply drank water to take care of this issue.
Another person stated that they work in a very stimulating environment that seemed to drive them to have to take either one of these drugs. They really enjoyed the modafinil as it gave them a mental sharpness all day and the wearing off effects were hardly noticeable. It gave them a clean and fresh feel all day. Armodafinil was a completely different story. The drug is much more powerful and they enjoyed the first five days of using this stimulant. The drug left his head feeling quite full but the alertness was not as clean as the modafinil. By the 6th day the person started experiencing very debilitating headaches. They would take one pill in the morning and by evening they would be in bad shape. They either spent the night on the couch or they fed themselves advil to calm the pain. Their choice was to either suffer with the armodafinil or enjoy the crisp clean feeling of the modafinil. The chose the modafinil as the better option of the two drugs. There could be some unhealthy dependence going on here.
One user with ADHD talks about his experience with modafinil. He said compared to ritalin and adderall it is not that effective. He felt great being alert for 4 to 6 hours but then the drug wore off which for him was way too quick. He also shared that the comedown was very noticeable for him. He didn’t like the fact that the effects were so short because than he would either have to take another pill and stay awake late into the night. If he did not take another pill then he would be ineffective the rest of the day.
He said the wearing off effect of modafinil was quite debilitating for him. He experienced mild dysphoria, demotivation and fatigue. Generally, he said the drug was useless for him. This is a perspective from a person with ADHD who would genuinely need a cognitive enhancer.
So, from the above experiences it seems the majority of users found the weaker modafinil to be more effective than the stronger armodafinil. The modafinil had a cleaner fresh alertness to it all day as opposed to the other drug. The wearing off effect in most cases seemed to be easier to physically tolerate than the wearing off effects of armodafinil.
The Final Tally
In retrospect it seems that modafinil clearly wins this battle over armodafinil. Armodafinil may be more powerful than modafinil and the dosage taken is smaller than modafinil. The feeling of alertness the users felt was not as clean as the feeling the modafinil gave. The wearing off effects of modafinil were much gentler than the wearing off effects of armodafinil. Also, the one user experienced “migraine” type headaches after the armodafinil wore off. Another benefit for modafinil is that it has a very low risk of being addictive. True that there was one negative review of modafinil but most of the reviews were positive. So for these reasons modafinil beats out armodafinil as the best cognitive enhancer to take.