A drug currently used to treat symptoms of narcolepsy may also help treat debilitating fatigue in patients with chronic diseases.
Researchers from Ohio State University College state that drugs currently used to treat fatigue are only marginally effective and that Modafinil causes less stimulant effect than amphetamines or methylphenidate because it targets brain regions linked with wakefulness and fatigue. This information was presented in detail in May at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in San Diego, California.
Research on Modafinil shows that it is a memory-enhancing and mood-brightening psychostimulant that is less likely to cause jitteriness, anxiety, or excess locomotor activity – or lead to a hypersomnolent ‘rebound effect’ – than traditional stimulants.
Modafinil is proving clinically useful in the treatment of narcolepsy, a neurological disorder marked by uncontrollable attacks of daytime sleepiness. A few such studies were conducted at The Center for Narcolepsy Research in UIC’s college of Nursing, the Sleep and Ventilatory Disorders Center at the UIC Medical Center, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Researchers at Ohio State University College of Medicine and Kaiser Permanente in San Diego have also conducted a 9-week study on the effects of modafinil on patients with MS. Seventy-two patients with MS and severe fatigue received a placebo or varying dosages of modafinil. The placebo was given in the first 2 weeks and the last 3 weeks of the study. In weeks 3 and 4, the patients received 200 mg/d of modafinil – this dosage was then increased to 400 mg/d in weeks 5 and 6.
Patients reportedly had significantly less fatigue and the fewest adverse effects while taking the 200-mg/d dosage. Frequently reported side effects were dry mouth and headaches.
Abstracts published in Neurology offer additional insight into this research.