Armodafinil (also known as Nuvigil) developed by Cephalon, the makers of Modafinil was approved by the FDA in 2007, around about the time the patents of Modafinil expired. It is (very) similar in chemical structure to Modafinil. Some cynics have suggested it is just pharmaceutical evergreening (tweaking the chemical structure to extend an expired patent).

An appalling slur against the good name of drug companies everywhere. After all these are the same stalwarts of morality that distort clinical trials, sell banned drugs in developing nations, release drugs that give you heart attacks, sell drugs that are no better than placebo or that promote suicidal ideation. Clearly pharmaceutical company is a by word for ethical business practice.

Am I talking out of my very clever, hyper alert arse?

Anyway regardless, they have some similarities and some differences. Both Armodafinil and Modafinil are prescription only stimulants, used to treat narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea-related sleepiness and shift work sleep disorders. They come in pill form and are always taken anally (orally. I’m kidding. Or am I talking out of my very clever, hyper alert arse?).

They are also both used ‘off-label’ to treat a host of other stuff like ADHD, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Depression. Drug addiction. Fibromyalgia. Jet lag. Multiple sclerosis. Parkinson’s disease and Weight loss. And, of course, they are both used extensively by people who want to enhance their productivity, mood and concentration levels.

Both work in the same way by inhibiting reuptake of dopamine, elevating histamine levels in the hypothalamus and increasing levels of other monoamines like serotonin. They might also increase your brain’s available energy and enhance neural communication.

Also, because they are so chemically alike, they both have about the same level of safety, with few adverse events being reported, including dizziness, headache, dry mouth, insomnia, nausea and nervousness.

There is no clear evidence that Armodafinil is more effective than Modafinil and Modafinil is cheaper. But if you look at the chemistry, Armodafinil probably should be more effective because it’s ‘more pure’. This is all to do with some hard core chemistry around racemic mixtures in chiral molecules. Bottom line is that you can take about 25% less to get the same effect.

Also Armodafinil has a monophasic elimination profile and has greater bioavailability than Modafinil, so it comes on a bit slower, but its effects may last a few hours longer. Though this is disputed, with other studies suggesting they peak at about the same time, around 2 hours after consumption and last about the same duration as well. User reports certainly suggest that Armodafinil’s effects last at least 2 hours longer than Modafinil.

Remember how you felt after an ecstasy binge?

Neither drug seems to generate withdrawal symptoms, but that does not mean they don’t have discontinuation effects. Remember how you felt after an ecstasy binge? How anyone manages to enjoy doof-doof music without the aid of powerful psychoactives is beyond me. Yes, Yes, burning man will change my life.

While there is no clinical evidence to suggest these drugs have any discontinuation effects, all serious users cycle on and off these drugs to give their bodies time to recover and to prevent them from developing a tolerance. Some people also cycle between the two drugs for the same reason, but still with breaks from both.

All the usual rules apply to both. Consult a doctor before taking them and start with a lower dose, then ramp up over time. If you get significant side effects stop taking them.
Stay safe. Think fast.