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Modafinil History and Its Discovery

Modafinil History and Its Discovery

Last updated on 31 May, 2024

Modafinil as a nootropic was developed in the 1970s in France by French neuroscientists Michel Jouvet and L. Lafon Laboratories. Later, the FDA approved the use of the smart drug in 1998. 

Modafinil has gained a lot of attention in today’s world, but few people are aware of its origin. This blog contains all the information regarding its history and development in treating excessive daytime sleepiness and cognitive possibilities. 

What Is Modafinil?

Modafinil is a central nervous system stimulant that helps to treat excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, and shift work sleep disorder. The generic brand names of Modafinil include Modalert, Modvigil, and Provigil. 

Initial Development Of Modafinil 

L. Lafon Laboratories, a French pharmaceutical company, and neuroscientist Michel Jouvet first developed modafinil in the 1970s. In 1974, the researchers discovered a molecule called Adrafinil [2]. It was used as a treatment for excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, a condition characterised by uncontrollable daytime drowsiness. Adrafinil initially displayed itself as a promising Eugeroic compound;  however, the ongoing trials did not yield successful results, resulting in a temporary halt in its development. 

Modafinil Birth 


In 1976, Modafinil, the primary metabolite of Adrafinil, was discovered.  The generic Modafinil showed significant effectiveness in promoting wakefulness. In 1986, many trials were conducted, and Modafinil showed remarkable results. It was found that Modafinil works in the hypothalamus region of the brain by increasing certain chemical neurotransmitters such as orexin, histamine, serotonin, and dopamine and decreasing the level of GABA. This enhances focus and cognitive possibilities. It starts working within 30 minutes after administration [3].

Official Registration Of Modafinil

In 1991, military forces used Modafinil to stay alert during the Gulf War. Following its success in the Military War, Modafinil was officially registered in 1992. The generic Modafinil was first released under the brand name Modiodal, and soon it was available in Europe and across different parts of the world. 

FDA Approval Of Modafinil

The United States approved the use of Modafinil in 1998. Initially, the US Food And Drug Administration approved Its use in the treatment of narcolepsy, but later, in 2003, it was approved for obstructive sleep apnea and shift work sleep disorder. The approval marked a significant milestone in the history of drugs for its reach and recognition. 

Modafinil Global Recognition

Modafinil has received global recognition because of its safety profile. The side effects of Modafinil are milder in nature. These minor and infrequent side effects make it a preferred traditional stimulant for cognitive benefits. 

Modafinil’s Rise As A Cognitive Enhancer

Besides the clinical uses, Modafinil’s journey took a turn as it gained popularity among individuals for its off-label uses as a cognitive enhancer. Many in-vitro studies or anecdotal evidence shows the benefits of Modafinil in improving memory, attention span, and overall mental clarity.  This led to its widespread use among students, professionals, and even military personnel to enhance cognitive performance and productivity. 

Our Final Verdict

Today, Modafinil is not only a treatment option for sleep-related disorders but also a cognitive enhancer. Its journey from a French laboratory to a staple in the nootropic community underscores the ever-evolving landscape of pharmaceuticals and their effect on human life and productivity. 


Initially, Modafinil was designed for patients with narcoleptic and idiopathic patients with hypersomnia and obtained a significant decrease in excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep attacks.

Initially developed in the 1970s by French Neurochemists Michel Jouvet and L. Lafon Laboratories in France, it was marketed in 1994 and later was approved by the FDA in 1998.

Modafinil seems to be the first, safest, smart drug for patients treating excessive daytime sleepiness and cognitive possibilities.

Modafinil 200 mg is the standard recommended dosage per day.

Modafinil 400mg/day is the maximum dosage of Modafinil.


  1. Modafinil, statpearls

  2. Adrafinil,

  3. History and Development of Modafinil,


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The contents of HealthMatter are for informational purpose only and is taken by a thorough evaluation of research papers and Journals. We do not provide professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. We advise all readers to consult a physician before consuming any medication mentioned on the website.