Modafinil vs Armodafinil

These two drugs are members of the same family and benzhydryl chemical class; both are eugeroic (wake-ness promoting agents) and nootropic 'the smart drugs'. Both of these Modafinil vs Armodafinil are primarily indicated for narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea and shift work sleep disorder. Also they have shown good improvement in patients of ADHD, depression, fatigue syndromes, Parkinson disease and even in schizophrenia. They have done wonders in the medicine ever since they have been introduced, Modafinil in the 1990s and Armodafinil in the 2000s.

Chemistry

Technically speaking Armodafinil is a derivative of Modafinil. Modafinil being a benzhydryl compound contains 2 benzene rings interconnected by one carbon molecule, it also contains a sulphinyl group. The above mentioned molecule has two enantiomers namely the R - enantiomer and the S - enantiomer usually in a ratio of 50:50. Armodafinil however contains only the R - enantiomer and is thus a more specific creation which is more potent and efficacious than Modafinil. This close resemblance in structure means that they both act on the brain in the same way, primarily they increase dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin, histamine, orexin (hypocretin) and decreasing the levels of GABA.

Differences Modafinil vs Armodafinil

Apart from the structural difference tweak mentioned above Modafinil vs Armodafinil differ in terms of their performance on the body. Armodafinil is a more refined and purified form of Modafinil which not only makes it more expensive but also better in improving the patients. The figure of utmost importance is the half life ( the time it takes for half the drugs effect to wear off). Modafinil stands at 10-12 hrs whereas Armodafinil the R-enantiomer of Modafinil is 13-15hrs. This is a good thing considering that both are wake promoting drugs produced to stop a person from sleeping in narcolepsy and other conditions. Furthermore the elimination profile of Modafinil is biphasic ( as it has both the enentiomers) whereas Armodafinil is monophasic, it also peaks concentrations later than Modafinil meaning that the former has more systemic availability. Also as Armodafinil is more potent than Modafinil its standard dosage is around 100-150 grams whereas Modafinil has a standard dosage of about 200 grams and above. On paper Armodafinil is more efficacious at low doses than Modafinil but recent studies and patient reviews say that both Modafinil vs Armodafinil have similar efficacies. To give you an even clearer picture, Modafinil was approved by the FDA in 1998 whereas Armodafinil was approved by June 2007.

Similarities Modafinil vs Armodafinil

As mentioned above they both have similar mechanisms of actions and act on similar parts of the brain. Apart from its medical uses for narcolepsy and apnea both these medicines are being increasingly used as brain enhancing drugs, the following are some of the cognitive effects:

  • Anxiety control;
  • Increase in flight of thoughts;
  • Increase in organization of thoughts;
  • Increased focus;
  • Increased libido;
  • Increased motivation;
  • Memory enhancement;
  • Suppressing of emotions;
  • Wakefulness.

Few shared physical effects are:

  • Change in appetite;
  • Dehydration;
  • Dizziness;
  • Headache;
  • Increased heart rate;
  • Nausea;
  • Rarely photophobia.

Being so similar they also share the side effects (although in a minority of patients 11%) and precautions deemed necessary while on either medication, they are:

  • Palpitations;
  • Headaches;
  • Anorexia;
  • Buccofacial Dyskinesia;
  • Dry Mouth;
  • Itchiness;
  • Anxiety;
  • Insomnia (it is somewhat more with Armodafinil).

Like every other medicine some serious side effects have come to light although in a minority of cases, these include Toxic epidermal necrolysis, SJS Syndrome, Erythema Multiforme and DRESS syndrome (these have been reported more with Modafinil than Armodafinil).

Care is necessary while eating Modafinil and Armodafinil, specially in hepato-renal impairment ( where approximately half the dosage should be taken). Caution should be taken in hypertensive people as well. It is contraindicated in diseases and conditions such as breast feeding, myocardial infarction, pregnancy, hypertension of pregnancy and angina with hypertension. It should not be taken with opioids or Alcohol. Chocolate and caffeine consumption should be reduced while eating Modafinil vs Armodafinil. It also important to say that there is a possibility that women using hormonal birth control methods such as implants, hormonal birth control pills, vaginal rings, patches and intrauterine devices have a greater chance of failure and resultant pregnancy while using Modafinil and one month thereafter.

An acute overdose is quite rare and does not pose any life threatening effects. Although the following symptoms can result as an overdose:

  • Sleep disturbance and insomnia;
  • Hallucinations;
  • Hypertension;
  • Restlessness;
  • Chest pain;
  • Feeling disoriented;
  • Diarrhea and nausea.

Conclusion

Both the medicine Modafinil and Armodafinil have helped patients a lot, they aren't that much different either. They could be called cousins, for the layman Armodafinil is just an upgrade to the already refined and popular than Modafinil. Although Armodafinil is more costly than the latter but it is more specific, potent and has a safer profile than Modafinil. Ongoing research continues to monitor the long term effects of Armodafinil and are focused on refining and improving the medicine even more.