Provigil vs Nuvigil: A Detailed Comparison

If you have a condition such as narcolepsy or shift-work sleep disorder, typically you have trouble staying awake. You may randomly fall asleep throughout the day which can pose a safety hazard. This danger is especially real if you are operating machinery or a vehicle.

Provigil and Nuvigil are stimulants commonly prescribed to those with these disorders. Before determining which one may most benefit you, take a few minutes and let us help you compare them.

What Is Provigil?

Provigil, also prescribed as modafinil, is a drug that promotes wakefulness. Its mechanism of action has not yet been determined. However, it is thought that it helps to improve dopamine levels. This, in turn, makes you feel more awake. While Provigil is similar to amphetamines in the fact that it enhances wakefulness and energy, it is not classified as an amphetamine. This drug was approved for use in 1998.

What Is Nuvigil?

Nuvigil, also prescribed as armodafinil, is also a type of medication that causes you to be more awake. Like Provigil, exactly how it works has not been determined. Experts believe that it plays a role in enhancing dopamine amounts in the brain. The result is you feel more awake. It too is not an amphetamine though it does promote energy and wakefulness like the amphetamine class of drugs do. This drug was approved in 2007.

Provigil and Nuvigil Uses

The primary use for both drugs is to counter narcolepsy, shift-work sleep disorder, and obstructive sleep apnea. The one thing all of these conditions have in common is that they cause excessive daytime sleepiness and these drugs can prevent this from happening. Both drugs also have investigational uses, including common use as nootropic supplements.

Provigil Investigational Uses

  • ADHD
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cognitive enhancement
  • Delayed sleep phase syndrome
  • Jet lag
  • Parkinson’s disease

Nuvigil Investigational Uses

  • ADHD
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Jet lag
  • Schizophrenia
  • Cognitive enhancement

Nuvigil’s effects last for about eight hours, and the half-life is 15 hours. Provigil’s effects continue for about six to eight hours, and the half-life is 12 hours. Provigil comes in 100 and 200-milligram tablets. Nuvigil comes in 50, 150, 200 and 250-milligram tablets. Both drugs are only available in oral form.

Both of these medications are manufactured by the same company – Teva Pharmaceuticals. The chemical structure of both drugs has very slight differences. Nuvigil and Provigil may work in the following ways:

  • Increasing histamine and inhibiting dopamine reuptake
  • May stimulate orexin receptors
  • Activating orexin peptides
  • Rising levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and other monoamines
  • Inhibiting GABA neurotransmission, enabling glutamatergic circuits and enhancing electronic coupling

Both drugs are said to have a low risk of abuse and are classified as Schedule IV drugs. This low abuse risk is when both drugs are being used as the doctor prescribed. Compared to amphetamines, Nuvigil and Provigil are considered to be significantly safer from this standpoint.

Comparing the Side Effects

As with all medications, both Provigil and Nuvigil come with the potential for side effects. Headaches are considered to be the most commonly encountered issue, and approximately 15 to 20 percent of patients report it. Other most common side effects of both medications are mostly the same. They include:

  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea

There are specific side effects that are considered to be more severe with Provigil and Nuvigil alike. These may include:

  • Serious allergic reaction
  • Mania
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain

Comparing the Precautions

Both drugs have the potential for adverse interactions with other medications. For example, they may negatively interact with certain anti-anxiety drugs, heart medications, proton pump inhibitors, immunosuppressants or birth control pills.

If you have certain medical conditions, it is essential to make your doctor aware of them before using either of these drugs. You should tell your doctor about:

  • Kidney or liver conditions
  • High blood pressure or other conditions affecting your heart
  • Mental health disorders

Insurance and Cost Comparison

When prescribed for the common uses, both drugs are typically covered by medical insurance. If the drugs are prescribed off-label for conditions such as for any of the investigational applications, insurance companies may deny coverage. There are coupons online that typically work at most pharmacies that may make both products more affordable if your insurance refuses to cover them.

The generic versions are typically much less expensive compared to the name brand versions. The average retail cost of Nuvigil under the brand name without coupons or insurance coverage is $562.07 for a one-month supply. The average retail price of brand name Provigil without insurance coverage or discounts is $772.93 for a one-month supply.

This information should make it a little easier to determine which of these medications might help you the most. The next step is to talk to your doctor to get their take on your condition and circumstances. Hopefully soon, you’ll be able to get started on a medication that makes it easier for you to remain alert and awake when you need to be.