Modafinil: is it ready for prime time?

Eric Prommer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Psychostimulants have been used to treat many symptoms associated with advanced cancer. The primary role of psychostimulants in such cases is the treatment of symptoms such as cancer-related fatigue, opioid-induced sedation, depression, and cognitive dysfunction associated with malignancies. These uses for psychostimulants came after approval for treatment of disorders such as attention deficit disorder. Modafinil, a new psychostimulant, is following a similar path after its approval for use in attention deficit disorder in 1998. Modafinil has been used to treat fatigue associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is now being increasingly used for cancer-related symptoms targeted by psychostimulants. Preliminary evidence from literature review suggests that modafinil is efficacious in improving opioid-induced sedation, cancer-related fatigue, and depression. There is no evidence to support its use in the treatment of cognitive dysfunction related to cancer or to support its having analgesic properties. Well-designed, randomized, controlled clinical trials are still needed to further elucidate the precise role of this drug in the care of patients with cancer. Specifically, large placebo-controlled trials with modafinil must be conducted in patients with cancer, with specific attention paid to pain control, depression, cognitive function, and adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-136
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of opioid management
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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