Politico: Jackson troubles shine light on a fact of Washington life: Sleeping pills

From Politico:

Ronny Jackson, the White House physician who is battling to save his nomination to be the secretary of veterans affairs, regularly handed out the sleep drug Ambien and the alertness drug Provigil to West Wing officials traveling on overseas flights.

Jackson’s nomination has inadvertently exposed the widespread use of sleep and alertness drugs among government officials from the White House and State Department to the Pentagon and Congress itself…

Medical experts sounded the same warnings about Provigil, which was hailed by many as a miracle drug for its ability to keep people awake without many of the side effects, like jitteriness, of other substances like caffeine…

Schwartz said use of Provigil to help people stay awake in stressful situations or after long travel is not an FDA-approved use. Doctors can legally prescribe medicines for unapproved uses, but she said there aren’t a lot of studies to inform physicians and patients of the benefits and safety risks of using Provigil in these situations…

Provigil has addiction potential, so caution should be taken in prescribing it, she added. Because it’s a stimulant, doctors also need to carefully consider whether patients have heart problems or anxiety — conditions that could be exacerbated by use of the drug.

This is an ignorant article by Politico. Here’s a smarter piece by Wikipedia on modafinil (provigil):

The addiction and dependence liabilities of modafinil are very low.[1][2][26] It shares biochemical mechanisms with addictive stimulant drugs, and some studies have reported it to have similar mood-elevating properties, although to a lesser degree.[26] Monkeys will self-administer modafinil if they have previously been trained to self-administer cocaine.[26] Although modafinil does not produce reinforcing effects in mice at doses that are equivalent to those used therapeutically in humans, it does do so at higher doses.[27][28] In accordance, although very rare, case reports of modafinil abuse exist…

Modafinil has been described as an “atypical” DAT inhibitor, and shows a profile of effects that is very different from those of other dopaminergic stimulants.[49][50] For instance, modafinil produces wakefulness reportedly without the need for compensatory sleep, and shows a relatively low, if any,[51] potential for abuse.[46][49][50] Aside from modafinil, examples of other atypical DAT inhibitors include vanoxerine and benztropine, which have a relatively low abuse potential similarly to modafinil.

… “[the] neurochemical effects [of modafinil] and anatomical pattern of brain area activation differ from typical psychostimulants and are consistent with its beneficial effects on cognitive performance processes such as attention, learning, and memory”,[51] and a study found that modafinil-induced increased locomotor activity in animals was dependent on histamine release and could be abolished by depletion of neuronal histamine, whereas those of methylphenidate were not and could not be.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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