Fatigue is a common complaint among people with multiple sclerosis (MS). It occurs in about 80% of patients and is a primary reason why patients leave the workforce via early retirement. Fatigue management plans are normally advised to help patients make behavioral changes and develop strategies that could improve the condition.

Provigil (modafinil) is used to promote wakefulness in adults with sleep disorders that include narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, or shift work disorder. It is used off-label by people with MS to treat fatigue and sleepiness.

In 2010, however, the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommended that drug’s use should be restricted only to narcolepsy because it is only in narcolepsy that the benefit of modafinil outweighs the risk. CHMP called for all other indications to be withdrawn from modafinil use.

Serious side effects of Provigil (modafinil) can include severe rash or allergic reaction, depression, feeling anxious, hearing things, hallucinations, manic state, thoughts of suicide, aggressive behavior, and heart problems such as chest pain or abnormal heartbeat. Common side effects include headache, dizziness, anxiety and feeling nervous, back pain, nausea, diarrhea and upset stomach, insomnia, and stuffy nose.

Modafinil is a tablet taken by mouth and in doses strictly prescribed by a medical doctor.

Provigil is a federally controlled substance because it can be abused or lead to drug dependency. It must be kept in a safe place to prevent misuse and abuse. Selling or giving away provigil may cause harm to others and is against the law.

The drug works by selective activation in the brain’s hypothalamus, which controls normal sleep and wakefulness patterns.  Unlike other central nervous system stimulants, modafinil does not cause excessive tiredness (crash) as it wears off.

There are generic products for modafinil but they are not available due to certain patent or exclusivity issues.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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