Armodafinil vs Modafinil: Everything You Need to Know

Armodafinil vs modafinil

Armodafinil vs Modafinil – If you’re wondering what’s the difference between these two, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out the differences along with their evolution.

Armodafinil & Modafinil

You must have come across Modafinil, a medication to promote wakefulness.

Simultaneously, you must have also noticed a similar-effect providing product, Armodafinil. Now both the medications offer similar benefits, but differ in a few criteria.

The brand name of Modafinil is Provigil. The brand name for Armodafinil is Nuvigil. The generic versions of Modafinil are Modalert and Modvigil, while that of Armodafinil are Waklert and Artvigil.

So, what is the exact difference between the type forms of Modafinil? Which medication is better? And which of these products should you purchase?

In the below-given post, we will discuss the development of these medicines, and how these are different from each other.

We will also explain which of these medicines are better for specific uses.

What is Modafinil?

The medication, Modafinil is one of the Eugeroics.

Doctors recommend it for the treatment of excessive sleepiness resulting from narcolepsy.

Now, narcolepsy is a sleep disorder. Here, you may encounter sudden attacks of sleep and extreme drowsiness or sleepiness.

  • Sometimes, Modafinil is also taken to reduce chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • It is also taken to reduce tiredness in patients with multiple sclerosis
  • The medicine works to keep you awake and improve cognitive abilities.
  • It is useful to bring high alertness and focus.

Modafinil for Shift Work Disorder

Modafinil is an excellent medication to give an additional boost when working between two jobs. You may have an erratic sleeping schedule when working in rotational shifts or between two jobs. This is where Modafinil steps in to get over sleepiness at work hours. There are hardly any side effects of this medication.

Armodafinil Promotes Wakefulness

Modafinil is a racemic compound. The term suggests the chemical structure of Modafinil.

It is the active ingredient in the medication. There are two varying chemical layouts witnessed in Modafinil molecules. But, you may wonder – why one chemical has two different layouts?

This can be explained with an easy example.

Consider both your hands. These are similar in a way but yet different from each other. After all, both your hands are opposites of each other. It is only when you lay these on top of each other that they perfectly fit to form a similar structure. This means you have to flip one hand upside down to form the same structure.

The logic behind the structural layout of Modafinil molecules is also similar.

  • Most chemicals work similarly. But, these may differ chemically in a structure just like how your right hand differs from the left hand. In technical terms, this logic of structure is called enantiomers.
  • Thus, Modafinil is a racemic compound. It has both the ‘left hand’ and ‘right hand’ versions of the medication. The exact term is (S)-(+)-modafinil, and (R)-(−) Modafinil.
  • Now, this is where Armodafinil and Modafinil are different. Armodafinil has only one of the enantiomers. This enantiomer is the (R)-(−) Modafinil enantiomer. We can also term it as an enantiopure compound.

Armodafinil vs Modafinil: What’s the Difference?

Both Modafinil & Armodafinil have numerous benefits as well as side effects. The medicines stimulate the brain chemicals responsible for the sleep-wake cycle. In response, you feel more awake and alert.

After the medication gives effect, you do not feel excessively sleepy. But the medical substances in Armodafinil and Modafinil differ subtly in the following ways:

1. Onset of Effects

It takes about 2 hours for Armodafinil to reach its peak. After this, the effect declines gradually. It is noted that Armodafinil reaches its peak quicker than Modafinil.

It takes about 4 hours before Modafinil reaches its peak effects. The effects then last for 2 to 3 hours. Modafinil effects then decline gradually over the next few hours.

2. Duration of Effects

The working effect and duration are similar between the two medications. However, certain factors can influence this. It is noted that Armodafinil has a longer duration of effect as against Modafinil.

Armodafinil has a duration of effect lasting for about 18 hours, while for Modafinil it is close to 16 hours.

3. Side Effects

The side effects of both these medicines are similar. Some of the effects are more or less common in one of the medications than the other.

For instance, Modafinil may cause side effects such as nausea and headache, more often than in Armodafinil. On the other hand, Armodafinil may cause insomnia more often than Modafinil.

This is perhaps because Armodafinil has a longer duration of effect. Some people may even experience anxiety because of the slightly stronger working of Armodafinil.

Evolution of Modafinil

Modafinil is a common medication that promotes wakefulness. But it falls in the middle of the three generations of medicines. These medicines developed over the years.

1. Generation 1: Adrafinil

Modafinil, just like many other medicines, was discovered by an accident.

It was in the late 1970s when researchers from the company, Laboratoire Lafon, were testing different compounds.

The compounds were being studied for their effects on the nervous system. Along with the studies, they discovered a compound with the chemical name 2-(Benzhydrylsulfinyl) acetohydroxamic acid.

On animal subjects, this compound visibly has positive effects. Some of the findings were:

  • In the EEG scans, it was noted that the compound increased brain activity
  • In a forced swim test, the compound helped mice to swing for a longer duration
  • It was also able to reverse the sedative effects or baritone
  • Also, there was no risk or rise in mortality

Laboratoire Lafon gave the compound a name, Adrafinil.

Now, around this time, Michel Jouvet (a French neurophysiologist), was performing experiments on the processes responsible for sleep.

The subject back then was not well understood. But the procedures conducted by Jouvet lead to the discovery of 5 sleep stages, which are known today.

  • Michel learned about the research on Adrafinil. He helped the company due to his interest in the findings.
  • With his help, more researches were performed on the compound and its effects. Michel then helped the company to develop and market Adrafinil to treat the sleep disorder, narcolepsy.
  • Here, the patients experience chronic daytime sleepiness. The medicine was sent to the market in the 1980s.

2. Generation 2: Modafinil (Provigil)

Though Adrafinil was good at its job, it had room for improvement. The medication had to be processed by the liver into metabolites.

Only after this, the medication could bring effects. This made the onset of the medicine slow.

People had to wait for at least 2 to 4 hours to experience the results. Researchers at Laboratoire Lafon tried to work on evolution for this medication.

  • This is when Provigil came to birth in the ’90s. Provigil came in smaller doses, had a faster onset of effects than Adrafinil, and produced fewer side effects.
  • It was then the American drug company, Cephalon Inc gained interest in the product. It carried out tedious and expensive clinical trials to bring medicine to the market.
  • The company found Provigil to have similar effects to amphetamines, which treat symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy.
  • It bought Laboratoire Lafon and secured exclusive rights to sell (in 1998) and market Provigil.

3. Generation 3: Armodafinil

The 3rd generation of Modafinil is finally Armodafinil. It is also known as R-modafinil.

Cephalon Inc worked continuously to develop Armodafinil. It received approval for the sale of this medication in 2007. The name for the Armodafinil product was Nuvigil.

In 2016, the FDA provided rights to produce generic Armodafinil to Mylan. After this, several other companies were allowed to make generic versions.

Final Words

Modafinil and Armodafinil are very similar to each other. Today, there are many different generic versions to the trade-name versions for these medications.


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