Modafinil Treatment of Cocaine Dependence: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Subst Use Misuse. 2017 Aug 24;52(10):1292-1306. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2016.1276597. Epub 2017 Mar 28.


Background: Currently, there is none FDA-approved medication to treat cocaine dependency. Studies conducted with various medications, including antipsychotics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and others, revealed inconsistent results.

Objectives: To meta-analytically investigate the efficacy and safety of modafinil in the treatment of cocaine-dependent patients.

Methods: Randomized controlled trials with ≥20 subjects comparing the numerical therapeutic outcomes of modafinil with placebo were identified in databases, such as PUBMED, psycINFO, EMBASE, and Relevant data on efficacy and safety were extracted. Relative risk (RR) and standardized mean difference were applied for reporting dichotomous and continuous outcomes respectively. Random effects, subgroup, and meta-regression analyses were conducted to further explore the results and evaluate for any moderators.

Results: In total, 11 studies (participants = 896, duration = 6.7 ± 1.9 weeks) comparing modafinil with placebo were systematically analyzed, which indicated that modafinil was not superior to placebo in improving the treatment retention rate (studies = 11, participants = 891, RR = 1.030, 95% CI = 0.918-1.156, p = .613). Similarly, data from 7/11 studies did not evidence superiority of modafinil in achieving cocaine abstinence (participants = 696, RR = 1.259, 95% CI = 0.813-1.949, p = .302). However, subgroup analysis of six studies conducted in the United States demonstrated superiority of modafinil in cocaine abstinence rate (studies = 6, participants = 669, 95% CI = 1.027-2.020, p = 0.035). In addition, no evidence suggested modafinil-related discontinuation or specific adverse events than placebo.

Conclusions: Overall, there is no evidence to conclude superiority of modafinil in increasing cocaine abstinence and treatment retention rate. However, promising result in subgroup analysis of cocaine abstinence, secondary outcomes, and good safety profile urged the need of larger studies to derive more conclusive results.

Keywords: Modafinil; addiction; cocaine; crack; dependence; efficacy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Benzhydryl Compounds / adverse effects
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Modafinil


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Modafinil