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J Med Toxicol. 2010 Sep;6(3):307-10. doi: 10.1007/s13181-010-0017-6.

A retrospective review of supratherapeutic modafinil exposures.

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Division of Medical Toxicology, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.


Modafinil is a non-amphetamine wakefulness-promoting agent used for the treatment of various sleep disorders characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. There is little information in the medical literature with respect to supratherapeutic doses of this medication. We performed a retrospective review of the California Poison Control System database for all cases of single-substance ingestion of modafinil with follow-up to a known outcome for the time period 1998-2008. Data collected included age, gender, dose ingested, clinical effects, and medical outcome. There were a total of 87 patients, 53 (61%) of which were female. Patient ages ranged from 1.25 to 72 years with a mean of 30 years; 17 (20%) patients were aged 6 years or less. Thirty-three (38%) were intentional overdoses. Most commonly reported effects were tachycardia (n=23), agitation (n=14), anxiety (n=11), headache (n=8), hypertension (n=6), dystonia/tremor (n=6), and dizziness (n=5). Forty-nine patients (56%) were managed at home, and 38 (44%) were managed in a healthcare setting. Therapies administered included activated charcoal (n=8), benzodiazepines (n=7), antihistamines (n=2), intravenous fluids (n=2), haloperidol (n=2), and beta-blockers (n=1). Effects were classified as none (n=22), minor (n=54), and moderate (n=11). No major effects and no deaths occurred. Effects of modafinil overdose appear to be mild in most cases, with tachycardia and CNS symptoms predominating. Clinically significant effects requiring treatment occurred in a small number of patients.

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