Modafinil, a drug developed to combat narcolepsy, is taking center stage in several studies aimed at reducing the affects of fatigue on truck drivers and army personnel.
According to a story in The Washington Post, the Scripps Institute of San Diego is using Modafinil on truck drivers and shift workers to gauge its effectiveness in reducing fatigue.
Another study conducted by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, MD, is looking at Modafinil's ability to keep people functioning effectively, such as helicopter pilots, despite no sleep over a 54 hour period.
Modafinil, which is marketed under the name Provigil, is attracting the attention the researchers because of its apparent lack of side affects. Unlike amphetamines and other stimulants, the drug does not appear to be addictive and has mild side affects including headaches and nausea. However, researchers caution that they do not understand how modafinil works, nor do they know what the long-term affects might be if people over-use the drug.