Have you ever seen somebody who is perennially tired, keeps feeling drowsy in the middle of the day? Well, that somebody is most likely to be suffering from narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy is a disorder related to our central nervous system that affects the sleepiness and wakefulness in us. This is due to the disorderly REM sleep patterns. Similarly, Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a condition where we are not able to fulfill our night’s sleep due to difficulty in breathing and discomfort in our throats.
People are generally known to snore and have discontinuous sleep patterns when they suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea. As a result, their sleep isn’t fulfilled, and they end up feeling sleepy in daytime. Nuvigil and Provigil are drugs that act like brain stimulants and promote wakefulness in the patients during the daytime.
Though their functions are primarily similar, there are certain features that set them apart. Let's take a look on how they fair against each other.
Nuvigil vs Provigil Comparison Chart
Below is a comparison chart comparing Nuvigil with Provigill to give you some brief specifications of each drug.
Half Life (Effect lasting time)
To treat Narcolepsy, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Shift work sleep disorder, etc.
To treat Narcolepsy, sleep disorders.
Comes in various dosages as 50mg-200mg in a 50mg interval.
Typical Dosages – 100mg and 200mg.
Method of Intake
Typical side effects include dizziness, nausea, headache, and insomnia.
General side effects include dizziness, nausea, headache, and nervousness.
195$ - 600$ depending on dosage.
790$ - 850$ branded forms, 150$ generic forms.
Availability of Generic Version
Summary - What is Nuvigil and Provigil
Nuvigil and Provigil both are drugs you will be prescribed to treat your sleep disorders and improve your wakefulness during the day time. The typical sleep disorders such as Narcolepsy, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, etc. can be treated by both these drugs.
Provigil is the branded form of the chemical Modafinil which acts as a brain stimulants and improves the wakefulness and reduces the daytime sleepiness. The generic form of Provigil is Modafinil, and it is known to work by stimulating neural activity in the brain.
It is thought to increase and release the levels of norepinephrine uptake as well as shown an elevation in the histamine levels.
Some studies suggest that Provigil inhibits the reuptake of dopamine transporter and increases the levels of neurotransmitters. In addition to this, Provigil also activates orexins in the brain, which are responsible for promoting wakefulness.
Nuvigil is the branded form of armodafinil and has the similar kind of usage and applications as Provigil.
All the clinical trials and studies have always concluded that these two drugs have very similar kind of mechanism of action and interaction with the neurotransmitters in the brain.
Nuvigil and Provigil Uses
Being drugs of similar composition, both Nuvigil and Provigil have been FDA approved to treat narcolepsy, OSA, etc. However, since the entry of Provigil into the market was much earlier than Nuvigil, Provigil is known to have a huge range of off-label uses. These include treatment for ADHD(attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), depression, jet lag, weight loss, etc.
However, currently, Nuvigil is also being investigated for the treatment of ADHD, chronic fatigue syndrome, jet lag as well.
Though generally drugs of similar composition are used to treat similar diseases, Nuvigil is preferred over Provigil to treat schizophrenia, especially avolition.
To summarize, both Nuvigil and Provigil are used to treat ADHD, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc. off-label and sleep disorders such as OSA, SWD, and narcolepsy as per FDA approval. These drugs help you to overcome your daytime sleepiness and trudge through the day with purpose and productivity.
Interestingly, 75% Modafinil off-label are now being used to treat ADHD, mood disorders and Nuvigil also is starting to penetrate the ADHD market though Provigil remains the popular choice.
Nuvigil vs Provigil Efficiency
When it comes to comparing the efficiency of Nuvigil vs Provigil, since the composition and mechanism of action of the drugs is similar, hence the efficiency of these drugs in the treatment of sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea and shift sleep work disorder is very similar.
None of the studies conducted in this regard have arrived at any significant difference in the efficiency of these two drugs.
The only factor differentiating Nuvigil vs Provigil is that Nuvigil contains the R-enantiomer of Modafinil and Provigil contains both the S and R enantiomers. Hence, Nuvigil is at times considered to the improved version of Provigil. Nuvigil has a longer effect while compared to Provigil.
Nuvigil vs Provigil Dosage
The drugs Nuvigil and Provigil are both manufactured in the form of a tablet and can be administered orally only.
As per the manufacturing system, Nuvigil comes in the doses of 50mg, 150mg, 200mg and 250mg.
On the contrary, Provigil is manufactured only in the dosages of 100mg and 200mg. For all normal instances, the starting dosage for all sleep disorders is 200mg in the case of Provigil however you may also take a low dose of 100mg as per your body conditions.
Nuvigil is considered more potent due to the presence of R enantiomer and is known to have more dosing options.
As the uses and composition of both Nuvigil and Provigil are similar, you may experience very similar side effects from the consumption of both these drugs. Some commonly experienced side effects are headache nausea, dizziness, etc. Skin reactions and allergies are also some of the often cited side effects.
The medication should be immediately terminated if you begin to experience face swelling, skin rashes, blistering, swollen glands, etc.
Since Nuvigil is considered more potent than Provigil, the side effects from Nuvigil are known to last longer and also the lower doses of Nuvigil have the same intensity of side effects as the higher doses of Provigil.
In case you are on the medication for Provigil and Nuvigil, you are recommended to employ physical forms of contraception such as condoms since the hormonal contraceptions lose their effectiveness when taken with Provigil or Nuvigil. Excessive consumption of these drugs can lead to severe depression and insomnia too.
Neither Nuvigil nor Provigil are the kind of drugs that initiate any withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking them. They are both Schedule IV drugs which indicate that they have very less potential for abuse and hence have next to nothing withdrawal symptoms in patients.
In some cases, patients with narcolepsy exhibit extreme sleepiness when they discontinue the medications. This is because the REM sleep factors that were being factored in to reduce the sleepiness and promote wakefulness in you.
If at all there are any withdrawal symptoms, you can expect to experience fatigue, sleepiness, cognitive impairment until the brain restores the homeostatic functioning.
Popularity or abuse
Like all other drugs, the popularity contest of Nuvigil vs Provigil is also determined by factors like how long the drug has been around and what are its uses.
We all know that Provigil has been around for longer and is popular among buyers both in the branded form and in the generic form of “Modafinil.” The conception of Provigil as a nootropic also enhanced the popularity of the drug as people started to use it for cognitive enhancement.
By 2014, it was an established fact that Provigil profits were crossing almost two times the profit of Nuvigil.
When it comes to the potential for abuse, Both Nuvigil and Provigil are considered to be safe options and less susceptible to abuse. Both are classified as Schedule IV controlled substances, with a less potential for abuse and refillable up to 5-6 months.
However, if one uses them for off-label uses, there is a potential for abuse.
Since both the drugs Nuvigil vs Provigil have similar characteristic and side effects, your choice can very well come down on the basis of costing.
Nuvigil 30-day supply can range from somewhere between 195$ to 210$ for a 50mg dosage and go up to 570$ or 600$ for higher dosages. Provigil branded starts from 800$ and continues to go up to 1200$ for a 30 day supply.
The generic form of Provigil comes in the range of 150$ to 305$ for a 30 day supply. The generic form of Nuvigil is not available on the market yet.
Recap(differences and similarities)
Nuvigil and Provigil are both drugs that are used to treat sleep-related disorders such as Narcolepsy, Obstructive sleep apnea, and shift work sleep disorder. They effectively promote wakefulness and reduce the effects and symptoms of daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
Nuvigil contains Modafinil while Provigil contains armodafinil which is an enantiomer of Modafinil. Nuvigil and Provigil both work by a similar mechanism of acting as a brain stimulant. Modafinil is known to inhibit the reuptake of dopamine and acts an indirect D2 receptor.
They also elevate the level of histamine in the hypothalamus and increase the concentration of norepinephrine and serotonin and activates orexin peptides through stimulation of orexin receptors (OX1 and OX2).
Another way by which Nuvigil and Provigil are thought to improve cognitive function is that they employ electronic coupling and increase the gamma waves in brain and efficiency of neural communication.
The only differentiating factor between Provigil and Nuvigil is that Nuvigil is considered to be more potent that Provigil and even the lowest dosage of Nuvigil have the reaction as that of a higher dosage in Provigil.
Commercially speaking, Nuvigil is known to have more dosage forms and is the branded version is known to be less expensive than the branded version of Provigil. However, the generic version of Provigil is found to be the least expensive of all.
Being schedule IV classified substances; they have very less potential for abuse and very low withdrawal symptoms also.
Common side effects of Provigil and Nuvigil are nausea, headache, anxiety, dizziness, skin rashes, etc. Recently, these drugs have also been used for the treatment of ADHD or ADD with very fewer side effects.
However, it is to be noted that if you experience serious skin rashes, sores you must discontinue the medications immediately and contact your physician. These side effects are extremely rare but should not be taken lightly.
Both these drugs have not been prescribed for pediatric use by the FDA. However certain physicians prescribe it to teenagers or young adults on their discretion and as per the physiological condition.
Making a choice
Often as is the case with drugs of similar composition, personal discretion and physician’s analysis should be the deciding factor in making a choice in Nuvigil vs Provigil.
Though Provigil is the more popular drug and Nuvigil is known to be the more potent drug, the effectiveness of both of these drugs would depend on your personal and physiological conditions.
Previous medical histories regarding heart disease, allergies also need to be taken into account. Your insurance carrier and financial situation may also have a say in this.
The wiser thing to do is to do a proper research on your condition as well as the medication and decide after seeking a well-trained physician’s advice.