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Nuvigil vs. Ritalin

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Are Nuvigil and Ritalin the Same Thing?

Nuvigil (armodafinil) and Ritalin (methylphenidate) are used to treat narcolepsy.

Nuvigil is also used to treat excessive sleepiness caused by sleep apnea or shift work sleep disorder.

Ritalin is also used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Nuvigil and Ritalin belong to different drug classes. Nuvigil is a wakefulness-promoting agent and Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant.

Side effects of Nuvigil and Ritalin that are similar include headache, nausea, anxiety, nervousness, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping (insomnia).

Side effects of Nuvigil that are different from Ritalin include diarrhea, upset stomach, or dry mouth.

Side effects of Ritalin that are different from Nuvigil include agitation, stomach pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, palpitations, vision problems, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, sweating, skin rash, psychosis, and numbness, tingling, or cold feeling in your hands or feet.

Both Nuvigil and Ritalin may interact with seizure medications or antidepressants.

Nuvigil may also interact with cyclosporine, propranolol, omeprazole, rifampin, sedatives, or antibiotics.

Ritalin may also interact with blood thinners, clonidine, dobutamine, epinephrine, isoproterenol, cold/allergy medicine that contains phenylephrine (a decongestant), potassium citrate, sodium acetate, sodium bicarbonate, citric acid and potassium citrate, sodium citrate and citric acid, medications to treat high or low blood pressure, stimulant medications, or diet pills.

Withdrawal symptoms may occur if you suddenly stop taking Ritalin.

What Are Possible Side Effects of Nuvigil?

Common side effects of Nuvigil include:

  • headache,
  • nausea,
  • diarrhea,
  • upset stomach,
  • dry mouth,
  • anxiety,
  • nervousness,
  • dizziness, and
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia).

Tell your doctor if you have serious side effects of Nuvigil including:

  • fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat, or
  • mental/mood changes (such as agitation, confusion, depression, hallucinations, rare thoughts of suicide).

What Are Possible Side Effects of Ritalin?

Common side effects of Ritalin include:

  • nervousness,
  • agitation,
  • anxiety,
  • sleep problems (insomnia),
  • stomach pain,
  • loss of appetite,
  • weight loss,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • dizziness,
  • palpitations,
  • headache,
  • vision problems,
  • increased heart rate,
  • increased blood pressure,
  • sweating,
  • skin rash,
  • psychosis, and
  • numbness,
  • tingling, or
  • cold feeling in your hands or feet.

What Is Nuvigil?

Nuvigil (armodafinil) is a wakefulness-promoting agent used to treat excessive sleepiness caused by sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or shift work sleep disorder.

What Is Ritalin?

Ritalin s a central nervous system stimulant prescription medicine. It is used for the treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Ritalin may help increase attention and decrease impulsiveness and hyperactivity in patients with ADHD.

Ritalin should be used as a part of a total treatment program for ADHD that may include counseling or other therapies.

Ritalin is also used in the treatment of a sleep disorder called narcolepsy.

Ritalin is a federally controlled substance (CII) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. Keep Ritalin in a safe place to prevent misuse and abuse. Selling or giving away Ritalin may harm others, and is against the law.

What Drugs Interact With Nuvigil?

Nuvigil may interact with cyclosporine, propranolol, omeprazole, rifampin, sedatives, seizure medications, antidepressants, or antibiotics. Tell your doctor all medications you use. Nuvigil should be used only when prescribed during pregnancy. It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

What Drugs Interact With Ritalin?

Tell your doctor if you or your child are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

Can Ritalin be taken with other medicines?

Tell your doctor about all of the medicines that you or your child take including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Ritalin and some medicines may interact with each other and cause serious side effects. Sometimes the doses of other medicines will need to be adjusted while taking Ritalin.

Your doctor will decide whether Ritalin can be taken with other medicines.

Especially tell your doctor if you or your child take:

  • anti-depression medicines including MAOIs
  • seizure medicines
  • blood thinner medicines
  • blood pressure medicines
  • cold or allergy medicines that contain decongestants

Know the medicines that you or your child take. Keep a list of your medicines with you to show your doctor and pharmacist.

Do not start any new medicine while taking Ritalin without talking to your doctor first.

How Should Nuvigil Be Taken?

The recommended dose of Nuvigil for patients with sleep apnea or narcolepsy is 150 mg or 250 mg given as a single dose in the morning. The recommended dose of Nuvigil for patients with shift work disorder is 150 mg given daily approximately 1 hour prior to the start of their work shift.

How Should Ritalin Be Taken?

Take Ritalin exactly as prescribed. Your doctor may adjust the dose until it is right for you or your child.

Ritalin is usually taken 2 to 3 times a day.

Take Ritalin 30 to 45 minutes before a meal.

From time to time, your doctor may stop Ritalin treatment for a while to check ADHD symptoms.

Your doctor may do regular checks of the blood, heart, and blood pressure while taking Ritalin. Children should have their height and weight checked often while taking Ritalin. Ritalin treatment may be stopped if a problem is found during these check-ups.

If you or your child takes too much Ritalin or overdoses, call your doctor or poison control center right away, or get emergency treatment.

Reviewed on 3/21/2019

References:
FDA. Nuvigil Product Information.
https://www.fda.gov/downloads/drugs/drugsafety/ucm231717.pdf
Novartis. Ritalin Product Information.
https://www.pharma.us.novartis.com/sites/www.pharma.us.novartis.com/files/ritalin_ritalin-sr.pdf

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