Modafinil: a novel stimulant for the treatment of narcolepsy

Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 1998 Jan;7(1):99-112. doi: 10.1517/13543784.7.1.99.


Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is a common and debilitating symptom of narcolepsy and other sleep disorders. Modafinil is a novel stimulant which effectively treats EDS, yet lacks many of the undesirable side-effects commonly encountered with currently available compounds. The specific mode of action of modafinil is not well understood, but it may promote sleep by indirectly influencing adrenergic or GABAergic neurotransmission. Modafinil-induced wakefulness is not associated with rebound hypersomnolence or the potential for abuse as is often encountered with other stimulants such as amphetamines. At typical therapeutic doses, modafinil may produce dry mouth but generally has a low incidence of minor side-effects. Many preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of modafinil in promoting wakefulness and vigilance in normal subjects and in those with EDS. Modafinil significantly improves the EDS of narcolepsy and also may improve the EDS of idiopathic hypersomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea. Modafinil's low prevalence of side-effects, minimal potential for abuse, and lack of rebound hypersomnia indicate that it has potential to become a widely prescribed drug for the treatment of narcolepsy.