Which medications in the drug class Stimulants are used in the treatment of Narcolepsy?

Updated: Sep 04, 2019
  • Author: Sagarika Nallu, MD; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Stimulants increase wakefulness, vigilance, and performance. They are thought to alter midbrain dopaminergic activity, but the precise mechanism of action is unknown. Interpatient variability in the dosage required to alleviate excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is considerable and unpredictable. In some patients, daytime sleepiness is completely relieved with methylphenidate 5 mg/day; in others, higher dosages are required. Initiate treatment at low dosages, and individualize therapy as appropriate.

Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Methylphenidate is a piperidine derivative that is the most commonly prescribed treatment for narcolepsy. Its efficacy has been demonstrated in randomized, double-blind, dose-response, and placebo-controlled trials.

Modafinil (Provigil)

Modafinil is pharmacologically distinct from other stimulants. It does not appear to act via the dopaminergic system.

Armodafinil (Nuvigil)

R-enantiomer of modafinil (mixture of R- and S-enantiomers). Elicits wake-promoting actions similar to sympathomimetic agents, although pharmacologic profile is not identical to sympathomimetic amines. In vitro, binds dopamine transporter and inhibits dopamine reuptake. Not a direct- or indirect-acting dopamine receptor agonist. Indicated to improve wakefulness in individuals with excessive sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS), or shift-work sleep disorder.

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