Modafinil Improves The Quality Of Life Of Narcolepsy Patients

June 23, 1998

Modafinil Improves The Quality Of Life In Men And Women Who Suffer From Narcolepsy, A U-M Study Concludes.

ANN ARBOR---A study presented today (June 23) at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) meeting in New Orleans found that modafinil, an experimental, wake-promoting drug, has been shown to provide clinically meaningful health-related quality-of-life benefits and maintains this improvement over an extended period, without the debilitating side effects of other drugs, according to a University of Michigan researcher.

"Narcolepsy can greatly impact a patient's quality of life. Patients treated with modafinil in this study were more alert and their ability to perform usual activities was significantly improved,'' said Ann E. Rogers, an associate professor at the U-M School of Nursing and the principal investigator of the study.

Narcolepsy is a disorder typically characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. People who suffer from narcolepsy fall asleep when least expected: during an exam, during a business meeting, or while eating, playing sports or driving. Many patients are never fully alert and cannot function normally. The disorder can take an emotional toll on its victims who are often mistaken for being lazy, bored or having psychological problems. The symptoms are often recognized to be as debilitating as those symptoms from epilepsy, migraine headaches or Parkinson's disease.

Rogers and a team of researchers studied the effects of modafinil on patients over a year. The study involved 481 patients: 163 were given a placebo, 161 were given 200 mg of modafinil and 157 were given 400 mg of modafinil.

During the nine-week clinical trial, patients receiving the placebo reported significant burdens in vitality, social functioning and overall performance, while patients who received 200 mg doses of modafinil reported more than a 50 percent improvement in day-to-day performances and social functioning. Those who received the 400 mg of modafinil reported even more improvements in their energy level. They had fewer difficulties in performing usual activities, were much more productive, had keener attention spans and, as a result, their self-esteem dramatically improved.

The study also found that when patients were taken off modafinil for two weeks, their symptoms reappeared and their quality of life decreased dramatically.

"These patients need medication to function. Modafinil provides this, and with fewer side effects than methylphenidate or amphetamines," Rogers said.

Unlike other drugs used to treat narcolepsy, modafinil needs only to be taken once daily and is not known to have the "crash" effect these other drugs are associated with, nor is it considered addictive.

The study, "Quality-of-Life Effects of Modafinil,'' was funded by Cephalon Inc. of West Chester, Pa.

In her clinical practice at the U-M Medical Center's Sleep Disorder Center, Rogers sees patients with more than 80 distinct sleep disorders. However, during the past 12 years her research has exclusively focused on excessive daytime sleepiness in patients with narcolepsy. For more information on her work, visit her Web site at http://www.umich.edu/~nursing/narcoplepsy/.
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University of Michigan

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