Provigil is prescribed to treat excessive sleepiness caused by sleep apnea, narcolepsy or shift work sleep disorder. It promotes wakefulness by altering the chemicals in the brain. The FDA approved Provigil for use in 1998. Doctors have even prescribed Provigil as a performance enhancer—especially for military pilots and other high pressure jobs.

In 2007, Provigil began to be associated with serious side effects. Provigil has been linked to depressive and suicidal thoughts along with hallucinations. Statistics showed, however, that these symptoms went away after 36 hours.

A more serious side effect that Provigil has been linked to is the dangerous skin disease Stevens Johnson Syndrome, a disorder that can cause the patients skin to peel off the body, leading to infection and potentially causing death.

The FDA requires that the Provigil label carry a warning about the severe risks that could accompany use of the drug, such as Stevens Johnson Syndrome and depressive thoughts.

Serious side effects may include:

  • Fever, sore throat, headache, and vomiting with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash
  • Bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • White patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips
  • Hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior
  • Depression, anxiety, aggression
  • Chest pain, uneven heart beats

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Headache, dizziness
  • Feeling nervous or agitated
  • Nausea, diarrhea
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Dry mouth
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