Volkow said modafinil acts slowly when swallowed and is difficult to inject, making it less likely to be abused. Its high price, about $10 per pill compared to Ritalin at $2 per pill, also makes it less attractive to people seeking a high. That may change when generics become available in 2012, Volkow said.
Jeffry Vaught, chief science officer for Cephalon, said the company has seen no evidence the drug is highly abused.
"If abuse is a problem with modafinil, it's minimal at best," Vaught said. "We're not seeing it used at rave scenes."
Prescribing information for the drug warns of severe rashes and other side effects such as headache, nausea and anxiety. Cephalon doesn't support the drug's use as a cognitive enhancer.
"There's no substitute for sleep," Vaught said.
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