Doctors in the department of neurology at Ohio State University stated that a drug currently used for the treatment of narcolepsy (a sleep disorder) appears to help most patients who suffer from disabling fatigue due to multiple sclerosis (MS). The drug, Modafinil, has been approved for the treatment of narcolepsy in the US and abroad. A wake-promoting agent, it is effective and well tolerated for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness.
In the study, 72 confirmed MS patients suffering from fatigue participated in the 9-week treatment regimen. First they were given dummy pills for two weeks and then received 200 milligrams of modafinil for two weeks, then 400 mg for two weeks and then placebo pills again for three weeks. Although the study was designed so that patients were supposed to be unaware of when they were receiving the active drug, nearly 85 percent of the patients knew when they were getting Modafinil because their fatigue improved so markedly. In addition, many of the patients participating in the study have tried conventional fatigue treatments without benefit, but responded to Modafinil. Dr. Kottil Rammohan, associate professor of neurology at Ohio State University, said that patients who took modafinil said it was like a load lifting from their shoulders. No side effects were noted when the 200 mg dose was given, however, higher doses were noted to make patients feel jittery and uncomfortable. On a scale of 1-7 (with 7 being the worst fatigue experienced), patients at the 5-6 level noted that the drug lowered their levels by a point.
Study results have impressed the scientific community and the manufacturer now plans further studies of Modafinil in fatigue associated with chronic fatigue syndrome and other fatigue conditions.