New drug said to fight sleep apnea

| 1/30/2004

The federal Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug for people who suffer sleep apnea that helps them stay awake during the day, Cephalon Inc., the company that makes the drug, said in a statement.

Provigil, a brand name for the drug modafinil, has been shown to improve wakefulness in people who suffer from sleep apnea or shift work sleep disorder.

For truckers, the news is especially good: Cephalon said in a release that Provigil does keep sleep apnea victims more awake, but does not stop them from sleeping when they want to.

The drug’s side effects are listed as mild to moderate, and occur only about as often as the same effects appear in people taking placebos.

Obstructive sleep apnea is an obstruction of a person’s airways caused when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes and closes the airway during sleep. It often causes a sleeper to wake numerous times during the night, disrupting their ability to rest properly. Shift work sleep disorder is caused when a person’s work schedule disrupts their regular, 24-hour sleep/work cycle. Both can cause excessive sleepiness during the day.

Information about the drug is available at or by calling 1-800-896-5855.