Is Prescription Pep Pill Nuvigil Worth The Side Effects?

If you listen to the radio enough, you’ve probably heard the ads for Nuvigil (aka armodafinil), a prescription stimulant being heavily marketed toward shift workers as a way to stay alert and awake on the job. But our curious siblings at Consumer Reports Health wanted to know if it really is the cure for “Shift Work Disorder.”

CR Health first considers the possible side-effects of the drug. On the Nuvigil site, there is a warning that users could have a life-threatening allergic reaction. And then after listing the standard “headache, nausea, dizziness, and trouble sleeping,” the site also mentions “chest pain, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, psychosis, mania, thoughts of suicide, aggression, or other mental problems.”

Then there’s the cost. A bottle of Nuvigil will run you up to $300 for a one month supply. The patent for Nuvigil’s predecessor Provigil will soon run out, meaning other companies will be able to sell less pricey versions of that drug. CR Health hypothesizes that this could be one of the reasons behind the advertising push.

While Nuvigil and Provigil have been prescribed for off-label uses like depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or jet-lag, CR Health says in this new AdWatch video that there is some scientific evidence saying that neither drug offers any more benefit to shift workers than a strong cup of coffee.

Can Nuvigil help you get through the night shift? [Consumer Reports Health]