Modafinil and armodafinil are classified as Schedule IV medications with stimulant-like properties by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Research shows that both drugs target the neuronal pathways in the brain’s sleep-wake centers, which regulate our sleep and wake cycles. Unlike other central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, modafinil and its R-enantiomer (armodafinil) do not cause an immediate surge in neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and histamine. This unique mechanism allows modafinil to address sleep-related disorders by promoting alertness and wakefulness without inducing the same level of euphoria that is typically associated with traditional stimulants.

This article provides an in-depth comparison of armodafinil and modafinil, two widely used wakefulness-promoting drugs. The authors of the article explore the similarities and differences between these FDA-approved medications by examining their chemical structures, pharmacokinetic profiles, generics, treated conditions, administration, dosage, side effects, and other factors. This article benefits individuals with sleep problems who want to obtain information to make well-informed choices about which medication is best for them. Before starting any medication, it is important to consult with your doctor, as this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice.

Executive Summary

  • Modafinil and armodafinil are wakefulness-promoting drugs commonly used to treat sleep disorders like narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and shift work disorder (SWSD). While both drugs work in similar ways, armodafinil has a longer half-life and can provide longer-lasting wakefulness effects than modafinil.
  • When choosing between armodafinil and modafinil, consider the drug potency and duration of action, the specific underlying medical condition being treated, your response to each drug, side effects, and price with and without insurance. It’s essential to evaluate the risks and benefits of modafinil and armodafinil before deciding which one to take for excessive sleepiness and sleep disorders.

Consult a doctor to determine the best fit for your needs and decide on the most appropriate medication and dosage. This collaborative approach can help you decide, based on careful consideration, to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

What Are The Differences Between Armodafinil and Modafinil?

Both drugs are used to treat excessive sleepiness, but they have some notable differences. Armodafinil (brand-name Nuvigil) is a newer drug approved in 2007, whereas Modafinil (brand-name Provigil) was approved in 1998.

According to a 2010 randomized clinical trial by M. Darwish et al., published in the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Therapeutics, armodafinil has a longer half-life, meaning it stays in the body longer (more potent), resulting in longer-lasting effects and better wakefulness throughout the day than modafinil. However, both wakefulness-promoting drugs have similar safety and efficacy profiles in treating sleep disorders, with comparable adverse effects and drug interactions.

Modafinil is available under the brand name Provigil, while armodafinil is known by the brand name Nuvigil. Both drugs have generic versions available.

  • The most well-known modafinil generics are Modalert and Modvigil. Both generics are available in 100mg and 200mg dosages.
  • The most well-known armodafinil generics are Waklert and Artvigil. Both drugs are available in 150 mg doses.

60-65% of armodafinil and modafinil are manufactured by Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., HAB Pharmaceuticals & Research Ltd., Sunrise Remedies Pvt. Ltd., Centurion Laboratories Pvt. Ltd., and Healing Pharma India Pvt. Ltd.

What Is The Difference Between Armodafinil and Modafinil Chemical Structure?

Armodafinil is modafinil’s R-enantiomer, which means it’s one of two mirror images of the original modafinil molecule, according to a 2006 research by J. P. Wisor, published in the Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior Journal. The other mirror image is known as the S-enantiomer. When the R-enantiomer and S-enantiomer are combined, they create a racemic mixture. However, armodafinil only contains the R-enantiomer, meaning it is a purer form of the drug than modafinil. Differences and similarities between modafinil and armodafinil are summarized in the table below.

Chemical name:2-[(diphenylmethyl) sulfinyl] acetamide(2-[R-(diphenylmethyl) sulfinyl] acetamide
Brand Name:ProvigilNuvigil
Generics Available:YesYes
Drug Form:Oral TabletOral Tablet
Conditions Treated:Narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and obstructive sleep apneaNarcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and obstructive sleep apnea
Standard Dosage:200 mg/day150 mg/day
Half-Life (duration of action):12-15 hours15 hours
Pharmacokinetic Steady State:2-4 days5-7 days
Maximum Plasma Concentrations:2-4 hours after administration2-4 hours after administration
Drug Classification:Schedule IVSchedule IV

The table above shows the major similarities and differences between armodafinil and modafinil, including the on-label indications of both of these drugs set by the FDA.

What Conditions Are Treated With Provigil and Nuvigil?

1. Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that affects approximately one in every 2,000 people. It is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden loss of muscle tone, and hallucinations. Modafinil and armodafinil are both FDA-approved (December 1998 and June 2007) medications for treating the symptoms of narcolepsy.

2. Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWD)

Shift Work Sleep Disorder is a condition that affects people who work non-traditional hours, such as night shifts or rotating shifts, according to E. M. Wickwire, Ph.D. et al. 2017 research first published in the peer-reviewed journal CHEST. In a 2009 study by C. A. Czeisler, Ph.D., MD, et al. first published in the peer-reviewed Mayo Clinic Proceedings Journal, armodafinil was found to improve wakefulness and cognitive performance in patients with moderate to severe chronic SWD who experience excessive sleepiness during night work.

3. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder caused by breathing pauses due to upper airway obstruction (often resulting in daytime fatigue), according to the National Library of Medicine (NIH). Armodafinil and modafinil are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants that can be effective treatments for OSA by reducing excessive sleepiness, according to a 2016 meta-analysis by Yi-Chun Kuan et al, first published in the peer-reviewed Clinical Therapeutics Journal. The FDA approved modafinil for its on-label indication of treating obstructive sleep apnea in June 2004.

What Are Modafinil and Armodafinil Off-label Uses?

Modafinil and armodafinil have also been used off-label to treat a variety of health conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, multiple sclerosis (MS) fatigue, cancer-related fatigue, and cognitive enhancement.

  • Modafinil may serve as a suitable replacement for traditional stimulants in treating ADHD symptoms among adults, according to a 2000 clinical trial published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology by F. B. Taylor and J. Russ. However, the evidence of its effectiveness in treating ADHD is still inconclusive.
  • Modafinil and armodafinil may result in improved symptoms of bipolar depression, according to a 2020 meta-analysis by N. A. Nunez published in the International Journal of bipolar disorders.
  • Modafinil and armodafinil are being researched as treatments for cancer and multiple-sclerosis-related (MS) fatigue. Scientific studies suggest that modafinil effectively treats fatigue related to MS and cancer.
  • Modafinil and armodafinil are also known for off-label use as cognitive and memory enhancers. A study by T. Roth et al., published in the Sleep and Breath Journal in 2008, found that armodafinil (150mg or 250mg) significantly improved episodic secondary memory and long-term memory. Further research is required to understand modafinil’s and armodafinil’s effects on cognition outside sleep-deprived populations.

How To Choose Between Armodafinil and Modafinil?

Factors to consider when choosing between armodafinil and modafinil:

  • Physician recommendation,
  • Armodafinil and modafinil price with and without insurance,
  • Drug potency and duration of action,
  • The specific underlying medical conditions being treated,
  • Patient’s response to each drug,
  • Potential for side effects.

Research suggests that both medications are similarly effective, but armodafinil has been shown to have longer-lasting effects than modafinil, according to a 2011 research by D. V. Tembe et al, first published in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology International.

Armodafinil may result in improved wakefulness than modafinil later in the day due to its higher levels (higher plasma drug concentrations) in the body, according to a 2009 comparative study by Mona Darwish et al., first published in the Clinical Drug Investigation Journal.

What Are The Main Side Effects and Risks Of Armodafinil and Modafinil?

The main side effects associated with armodafinil drug, when administrated 150-250mg/day, are headache (17%), nausea (7%), dizziness (5%), insomnia (5%), and dry mouth (4%), according to a 2006 randomized controlled trial by J. R. Harsh et al., first published in the peer-reviewed “Current Medical Research and Opinion”  journal.

The main side effects of modafinil, when administrating 200-400 mg/day, are headache (34%), nausea (11%), nervousness (7%), rhinitis (7%), and back pain (6%), according to the results of clinical trials in narcolepsy, OSA, and SWD.

The other notable side effects of both of these drugs include the effect on body weight and mood. A 2008 study by Gydmer A. Perez et al., first published in the Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior Journal, found that modafinil administration of 200mg-400mg/day reduced the calory intake by 18% to 38% dose dependantly.

A 2007 randomized controlled trial by I. Taneja et al., first published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, found that a 400mg/day administration of modafinil generally improves mood and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). Regarding mood changes, the two medications may cause negative side effects such as anxiety and irritability, especially in those with a predisposition to mood disorders.

The main serious side effects of the use of modafinil and armodafinil are as follows.

  • Allergic reactions such as skin rash, hives, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Symptoms of a heart attack, include chest pain, shortness of breath, and pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, or neck.
  • Signs of a serious skin reaction such as fever, sore throat, headache, and burning eyes.
  • Symptoms of a mental health problem include hallucinations, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

The occurrence of serious side effects of these two drugs is rare, less than 1%. If you experience any severe side effects, seek medical help right away. Always read the medication guide that comes with your modafinil and armodafinil prescription carefully and follow your doctor’s instructions. Do not exceed the recommended dosage (150-250mg/day for armodafinil and 200mg/day for modafinil).

How To Take Nuvigil and Provigil?

For narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea, the FDA-recommended starting dosage of modafinil for adults is 200 mg once daily in the morning. For armodafinil, the recommended starting dose for adults is 150-250 mg taken once daily. Both drugs can be taken with or without food.

To treat shift work sleep disorder, the FDA-recommended initial dosage of modafinil for adults is 200 mg once a day, to be taken around one hour prior to beginning work. Similarly, for armodafinil, the suggested starting amount for adults is a single dose of 150 mg per day, to be taken approximately one hour before starting the work shift. Both drugs can be taken with or without food.

Following FDA-approved medicating guidelines or taking these medications as prescribed by your doctor helps to reduce the risk of abuse and dependence. Scientific research suggests that developing tolerance to modafinil or its R-enantiomer is rare.

According to an article by StatPearls professional healthcare education and technology company authors Karl Greenblatt and Ninos Adams, published in the National Library of Medicine, overdosing on modafinil and armodafinil is rare, but it can happen. Symptoms of an overdose may include agitation, confusion, hallucinations, and seizures. There are no reports of modafinil-only overdose resulting in death. If an overdose or potential drug interactions are suspected, seek immediate medical attention.

What Medications Interact with Modafinil and Armodafinil?

Avoid taking the following drugs when on armodafinil or modafinil:

  • Ketoconazole and other antifungal drugs,
  • Erythromycin and similar antibiotics,
  • Blood thinners like warfarin and heparin,
  • Cyclosporine and other immunosuppressants,
  • Seizure medications including carbamazepine.

Drug interactions can be dangerous because they can change the way a medication works in the body. Inform your doctor about all your current medications, including the ones not listed, before taking modafinil or armodafinil to ensure safe administration. Adjustments to modafinil/armodafinil doses can be necessary to minimize potential side effects. Adjusting doses may also help with drug-related cost optimization.

What Is The Cost and Insurance Coverage Of Modafinil and Its R-enantiomer?

The 30-day supply cost of generic 200mg modafinil ranges from $69.00 at ModafinilXL to $350.63 at Duane Reade by Walgreens pharmacy. The 30-day supply of generic 150mg armodafinil ranges from $69.00 at ModafinilXL to $227.39 at Duane Reade by Walgreens pharmacy.

The 30-day supply cost of brand-name (Provigil) 200mg modafinil ranges from $1,161.35 at CVS Pharmacy to $1,224.46 at Capsule Pharmacy. The 30-day supply of brand-name (Nuvigil) 150mg armodafinil ranges from $1,019.45 at CVS Pharmacy to $1,074.01 at Capsule Pharmacy, according to WebMDRX.

The price difference between armodafinil and modafinil depends on the drug brand, quantity, tablet strength, where you purchase it, and insurance coverage. The insurance coverage can vary depending on your plan and the condition you are using it to treat. Check with your insurance provider to understand the extent of your coverage and any associated costs.

Where to Buy Modafinil and Armodafinil Safely?

You can purchase modafinil and armodafinil drugs safely at your local pharmacy or online. Armodafinil and modafinil are prescription medications, which means they can only be obtained with a valid prescription from a healthcare provider. However, you can also buy both modafinil and armodafinil online without the need for a prescription. Online pharmacies source high-quality modafinil and armodafinil directly from licensed, Indian-based generics (drugs) manufacturers. Drug-dispensing regulation isn’t tightly enforced in India, thus individuals can buy armodafinil and modafinil safely from Indian-based pharmacies without the need for a prescription.

How to Store and Dispose of Armodafinil and Modafinil?

Keep both drugs in their original container tightly closed and stored in a safe place away from children. Room temperature and a dry environment are ideal for storing the medication, and they should not be kept in the bathroom or near excess heat and moisture. It’s recommended to keep track of the number of modafinil and armodafinil tablets to prevent accidental or intentional use by others.

Users must dispose of armodafinil and modafinil properly to avoid accidental ingestion by children, pets, or others. Opt for a medicine take-back program or recycling/garbage departments, instead of flushing both of these drugs down the toilet.

Armodafinil and Modafinil User Review

Armodafinil has a rating of 7.3/10 on which is based on 359 reviews. Individuals with health conditions like depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and fibromyalgia report the highest satisfaction from using the drug. Armodafinil has a rating of 3.6/5 on which is based on 12 reviews.

Modafinil has a rating of 7.2/10 on which is based on 463 reviews. Individuals with health conditions like shift work sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome, and depression report the highest satisfaction from using the drug. Modafinil has a rating of 3.9/5 on based on 90 reviews.

Armodafinil vs. Modafinil Frequently Asked Questions

What are Modafinil and Armodafinil’s Exact Mechanisms of Action (MOA)?

The exact mechanism of action (MOA) for armodafinil and modafinil is not fully understood. Scientific studies indicate that these drugs can modulate specific neurons in the brain responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles. Modafinil can increase dopamine levels in particular brain regions that control alertness and drowsiness.

What Information Should I Disclose to My Doctor Before Using Armodafinil or Modafinil?

Before using modafinil or armodafinil, you should inform your doctor about any medical conditions you have, including heart problems, liver or kidney disease, high blood pressure, mental health issues, and a history of drug abuse. It’s also essential to inform your doctor about any medications and food and/or herbal supplements you are currently taking.

Do I Need to Follow Any Particular Diet While Taking Modafinil or Its R-enantiomer?

Clinical trials of modafinil showed that the main foods that interact with modafinil are caffeine and grapefruit juice. Thus, it’s best to talk with your doctor about caffeine intake, and eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while taking these medicines.

Are Modafinil and Armodafinil Detectable on Drug Tests?

While the simple answer is no, there are some exceptions, especially in the case of athletic testing. When it comes to drug tests that companies use for their employees, modafinil, and armodafinil are usually not on the list. On the other hand, high-level athletic commissions can test for modafinil using more advanced drug testing methods that can pick up a more comprehensive range of substances.

What Are The Potential Risks of Using Armodafinil or Modafinil With Alcohol?

It’s not recommended to use modafinil or armodafinil with alcohol. This combination can increase the risk of side effects, including dizziness, lightheadedness, and impaired judgment.

Is It Safe to Use Modafinil or Armodafinil During Pregnancy?

The safety of modafinil and armodafinil during pregnancy is not fully established. Because of a lack of safety data, the intake of modafinil is discouraged during pregnancy. Clinical trials indicate that taking armodafinil may be unsafe during pregnancy. Consult with your doctor before taking these drugs during pregnancy. Taking armodafinil or modafinil can reduce the effectiveness of hormonal (steroidal) contraceptives.

Is It Safe and Effective To Take Armodafinil and Modafinil Together?

There are no interactions between modafinil and armodafinil. However, there is limited data on the safety and efficacy of taking armodafinil and modafinil together. Therefore, taking these drugs together without consulting with your doctor is not recommended.

Is It Safe to Use Armodafinil or Modafinil Daily?

Modafinil and armodafinil are generally safe to use on a daily basis as long as they are used as prescribed by a doctor.

How Long Do The Effects of Modafinil and Armodafinil Last?

The effects of modafinil and armodafinil last for several hours, depending on the dosage and individual factors. Modafinil has a half-life of approximately 12-15 hours, while armodafinil’s effects last longer, roughly 15 hours.

What Should I Do If I Miss a Dose of Armodafinil or Modafinil?

If you miss a dose of modafinil or armodafinil, take it as soon as you remember. But if your next scheduled dose is near, skip the missed one and follow your usual dosing schedule. Do not take a double amount to make up for the missed dose.

How Do Provigil and Nuvigil Compare with ADHD Drugs, such as Adderall?

Although Provigil, Nuvigil, and Adderall can all improve wakefulness, focus, and concentration, they have different effects on the brain. Provigil and Nuvigil increase dopamine levels, which helps to promote wakefulness and alertness. Adderall increases both dopamine and norepinephrine levels, which can help to improve focus and attention.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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