Surely most of us have envisioned what we could do if there were more hours in the day. Some may commit more readily to their jobs; others might work out or simply read a book. It turns out people are actually enacting that dream – with the aid of the drug Provigil.
Provigil was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat narcolepsy, certain forms of sleep apnea, and to help people who work irregular hours. But, according to a recent ABC News article, Provigil has been embraced by people without such conditions, who simply want more hours in the day, to raise energy levels, and to improve their focus.
Comparisons to Adderall and Ritalin, other similar drugs of choice that have been readily abused by people who do not have the condition for which they are prescribed, run rampant. But Provigil is, interestingly, most commonly compared to an erectile dysfunction medication, with worshippers of the pill calling it “Viagra for the mind.” Scores of websites exist with tips on how to convince a doctor to prescribe it to patients without narcolepsy or sleep apnea, or on how to obtain the pills without a prescription.
In fact, sales from Provigil have increased by 73 percent between 2007 and 2011, from $832,687,000 to $1.44 million.
Doctors are understandably concerned by the phenomenon. No studies have been conducted on the long-term side effects of Provigil. There are a host of side effects – ranging from psychiatric issues to heart problems and trouble breathing. For people who suffer the debilitating effects of narcolepsy and sleep apnea, those side effects are risks that they may want to take – but for others, doctors would prefer that they avoid the medication.
Even on Provigil’s website, it reads, “PROVIGIL does not take the place of getting enough sleep. Follow your doctor's advice about good sleep habits and using other treatments. […] It is against the law to sell or give PROVIGIL to another person.”
Doctors add that Provigil does not stave away the effects of sleep deprivation, but merely masks the symptoms.
But for the people interviewed by ABC News, they remain undeterred. One, an executive for a billion-dollar internet securities firm, said that Provigil helped him live to the fullest while he was still on the planet.