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Jun 25 / 2021

Modafinil or caffeine

Modafinil stimulates cognitive functions of the brain.

Researchers from the military departments for many years have been seeking for substances that can stimulate the cognitive functions of the brain.Nancy Jo Wesensten, from the Walter Reed Military Research Institute, develops pharmaceutical products for improving wakefulness (and hence, combat readiness) for soldiers forced to work for a long time without having time to sleep. In July 1998, she accidentally stopped by at the booth of the Cephecon biotech company and talked to its sales representative.

At that time the company was just awaiting the authorization on the clinical use of the drug under the international name of Modafinil by the Office of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the USA. Under the brand name Provigil the medication was used to treat narcolepsy - deep daytime sleepiness, which affected more than 125 thousand of American residents. When it became clear that the drug could easily find application in the US Army, the Cephecon firm provided it for research for military purposes.

Generic Modafinil approved by FDA.

In December 1998, the FDA approved the sale of Modafinil as a treatment for narcolepsy, and today this drug is produced annually for more than $ 200 million.This, according to some experts, is far more than is necessary for narcoleptic patients who live in the United States. "Psychiatrists prescribe a lot of this medication to the patients in order to set the mood", - says Helene Emsellem, who heads the Center for disorders of sleep and wakefulness in Chevy Chase, Maryland. In fact, Modafinil is turned into a means of stimulating mental activity, reduce the need for sleep, improve efficiency and treatment of depression and multiple sclerosis.

But let’s go back to the study of Nancy Wesensten. "We were particularly interested in the fact whether the drug had any advantages over caffeine, which very effectively counteracts the negative influence of insomnia - she says. - In addition, the drug is available to the general population and has almost no side effects." Wesensten conducted a test on 50 volunteers who stayed awake for 54 hours.

After 40 hours from the start of the experiment, they were given a placebo, 600 milligrams of caffeine (the dose which is equal of six cups of strong coffee) or one of three doses of Modafinil (100, 200 or 400 mg) and then performed a series of tests created to assess the mental activity and severity of side effects of the drugs. At the highest dose (400 mg) Modafinil effectively relieved fatigue and restored alertness. But exactly the same effect had caffeine.