As the market for Modafinil has increased greatly over the last few years, drug makers are capitalizing on this by introducing new products to the market. These new products are marketed as successors to Modafinil, or as newer more superior versions of the popular pill. But how different are they in reality? In this article Adrafinil vs Modafinil vs Armodafinil we will examine the differences in the chemical structures of these products.
Adrafinil was actually created before Modafinil. In the 1970s it was designed by the French pharmaceutical company Group Lafon. Adrafinil is a prodrug of Modafinil. A prodrug is any drug that transforms into another when the body metabolizes it. Prodrugs are actually quite common. For instance, many formulations of cough syrup contain codeine, which is later converted into morphine inside the body. So codeine is a prodrug of morphine.
This means that Adrafinil is converted to Modafinil naturally inside the liver. As a result, the effects are identical; a dose of Adrafinil literally becomes a dose of Modafinil. However the additional processing that is required by the liver does have some consequences. There is stress on the liver during the conversion process as enzymes are consumed. These enzymes are replenished over time, but in some cases they are necessary for other conversions. This is why combining medicines can exacerbate side effects and symptoms. The first drug consumes the enzyme that the second drug needs, and so the second drug’s effects are modified.
Also due to the additional processing, Adrafinil takes longer to take effect than Modafinil.
Adrafinil was sold as Olmifon by Cephalon, the same company that sells Modafinil in its brand-name form. Cephalon discontinued sales of Adrafinil in 2011. It is currently still available in powder form from various Chinese suppliers. Some people have recommended buying Adrafinil this way because Adrafinil is unregulated in numerous countries and is therefore easier to import and possess. However these suppliers have unreliable quality control and pose a danger to the consumer’s health. In general, you should only purchase medicine from licensed pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Modafinil is the most popular form of the drug available on the market today. It’s proven to be the most reliable, effective, and consistent way to improve your energy and focus for an entire day. The drug is marketed under a large number of brand names, most of which are generic. Modafinil is sold under the names Alertec, Alertex, BravaMax, Carim, Provake, Mentix, Modasomil, Modavigil,Modalert, Modapro, Modafil, Modvigil, Modatec, Modiodal, Provigil, Resotyl, Stavigile, Vigia, Vigicer, Vigil, and Zalux.
Modafinil is a racemic mixture. Racemic mixtures are also quite common in pharmaceuticals. So what are they, and why does it matter?
A large number of chemicals exist in two forms. These forms are called enantiomers. The two forms are chemically identical, and have the exact same structure. The only difference is that they are mirror images of each other. A good analogy can be found in your hands. You have two hands, which are identical and structurally the same, however they are mirror opposites. One is left, and one is right. Enantiomers are the “left and right” versions of a drug. These are labled as the S and R enantiomers.
Just as you have a dominant hand that is usually better at doing most tasks, there is also usually one enantiomer that is responsible for the majority of a drug’s effects. The other enantiomer can contribute to the effects, or in some cases may present adverse side effects. In rare cases, the wrong enantiomer can be extremely harmful. Sometimes one enantiomer is completely useless.
Most racemic mixtures are equally balanced, meaning that the amount of the “left” enantiomer is equal to the amount of the “right” one. Modafinil is an equal combination of its S- and R- enantiomers. This is important, because in Modafinil’s case both enantiomers have a psychoactive function. A study in 2003 revealed that the S- enantiomer is also responsible for effects, and also showed that it is removed from the body faster than the R- enantiomer. Neither one is more or less responsible for negative side effects. Just as you sometimes need two hands to do a job correctly, Modafinil uses both of its enantiomers to provide the ideal effect on your body and mind.
Armodafinil vs Modafinil
Armodafinil has appeared on markets more recently under brand names such as Armod, Artvigil, Biryth, Nuvigil, Waklert. It’s been marketed as the successor to Modafinil, and is purportedly more effective at lower doses. Armodafinil was introduced in 2007 by Cephalon.
Armodafinil is an enantiopure drug. Enantiopure drugs are those that contain only one of the enantiomers available, R or S. What this means is that Modafinil already contains Armodafinil. Armodafinil is half of the racemic mixture in Modafinil.
As mentioned, the R enantiomer is longer acting and is the one most responsible for the effects of Modafinil. Since the S enantiomer is not as strong, Armodafinil’s dosage is therefore lower. Most doses are 150mg compared to Modafinil’s 200mg standard dose. The effects last about the same time, but Armodafinil takes longer to reach its peak than Modafinil does. This is because the S enantiomer peaks faster, and also leaves the body faster. Without this enantiomer Armodafinil users find that the effects take longer to kick in and are less noticeable at first. Reports of headaches were higher in patients taking Armodafinl, according to a 2009 study which compared Armodafinil to Modafinil. The potential benefit is that users will have more effects later in the day, perhaps when they need them more.
Armodafinil shows the exact same side effect profile as Modafinil. Why then was the S enantiomer removed? If it’s not doing any harm, and in fact contributes to the potent effect of Modafinil, why take it out?
The answer can be found by looking at the pharmaceutical industry itself. Drugs cost billions of dollars to produce. This is because numerous drugs that are researched and tested fail to become successful. One successful drug has to pay for 8-10 more that didn’t work. When a successful drug is found, a patent is filed and the company gets 20 years to produce the drug exclusively, ensuring a profit. As the patent expires, drug companies attempt to find ways to continue making money from their successful product.
Modafinil’s patent was set to expire around 2010. This would mean that Cephalon would no longer profit as much since generic formulations would quickly take over the market. In order to reduce the impact of Modafinil’s generic availability, they created a patent for its R- enantiomer as an emantiopure drug. Patent law allows for different formulations to be treated as completely separate drugs. This means that Armodafinil was created without spending money on additional research, essentially Cephalon got two drugs for the price of one. Armodafinil was released in 2007, and Cephalon began marketing it shortly after Modafinil’s patent officially expired.
This practice is hardly new. Companies have been doing this for decades. During the 20 years of exclusivity, they have built up a large base of loyal consumers who are pleased with their product, in this case Modafinil. By anticipating the expiration date, they can contact Modafinil users and their doctors, and encourage them to switch to the “new Modafinil.” They will often claim that it is better, “new and improved.” In addition, they will have had time to test the pill for new applications, allowing them to market it to more people. When users switch from Modafinil to Armodafinil, the pharmaceutical company continues to profit. Little do the customers know that they’ve already been taking the same drug, and could be saving hundreds of dollars by taking a generic.
Don’t be fooled by corporate tactics. At the end of the day, Armodafinil is only half of what Modafinil is. Nothing beats the original formulation that we’ve come to know and love.