Molly G. Cahill

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20042005 Forum on Sleep and Dreams

Molly G. Cahill

Biological Basis of Behavior

College '07

Ethics and Sociological Consequences of Modafinil

Modafinil, marketed as Provigil, is on the verge of becoming America’s new miracle drug. It works by replacing sleep with a pill. No extra sleep is required to recover from Modafinil, and the drug is not addictive. Research subjects have remained awake for as long as 60 hours on Modafinil without suffering any decline in their cognition or other adverse effects. FDA approval of the drug is intended expressly to treat specific sleep disorders. In a country as sleep-deprived as the United States, however, the potential for widespread off-label use is huge. What are the ethical issues surrounding Modafinil and its relation to our society?