Compare Focalin vs. Provigil

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Focalin
(Dexmethylphenidate)

Provigil
(Modafinil)

Helps you focus and stay alert. Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is a first-choice treatment for ADHD that's available as a generic, but it's a stimulant, so it can cause insomnia and other side effects.Improves alertness. Provigil (Modafinil) is effective in improving alertness, but it can interact with other medicines and shouldn't be used long-term.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
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4.290076335877862Focalin
Reviews for Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)
52%
of people say Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is worth it
31%
say it works well
22%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Provigil (Modafinil)
78%
+26% vs. Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)
70%
+39% vs. Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)
4%
+18% vs. Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)
Side effects
FocalinProvigil

We haven’t found good data for Focalin side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Focalin »
  • Headache 11%
  • Nausea 8%
  • Any side effect 5%
  • Nervousness 4%
  • Sleep difficulty 4%
  • Anxiety 4%
  • Loss of appetite 3%
  • Dry mouth 2%
  • Sore throat 2%
  • Chest pain 2%
More Provigil side effects »
How it works
FocalinProvigil
Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is a stimulant. Researchers don't know exactly how it works for ADHD, but it increases norepinephrine and dopamine activity in the brain, which affects attention and behavior.Provigil (Modafinil) is a stimulant that helps you feel awake. Researchers don't know exactly how Provigil (Modafinil) works, but it probably affects chemicals (neurotransmitters) in the brain.
Type of medication
FocalinProvigil
StimulantPrescription only
StimulantPrescription only
Available as
FocalinProvigil
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Pill
Used for (click to learn more)
FocalinProvigil
Risk factors for serious side effects
FocalinProvigil
  • Taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) 14 days before starting
  • History of drug abuse
  • History of heart problems
  • History of psychotic episodes
  • History of Bipolar Disorder
  • Ages 7 to 10
  • History of seizures
        Detailed Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) risks & warnings »
        • Taking with alcohol
        • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
            • Current kidney problems
            • Current liver problems
            • History of heart problems
            • History of psychiatric disorder
            • History of bipolar disorder
            Detailed Provigil (Modafinil) risks & warnings »
            Pregnancy category
            FocalinProvigil
            CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

            Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

            See the FDA package insert
            CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

            Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

            See the FDA package insert
            Alcohol
            • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
            • Don't drink alcohol with Provigil (Modafinil).
            Food
            No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
            Kidneys and liver
            No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
            • Not a good choice if you have liver or kidney problems.
            • Provigil (Modafinil) is broken down by the kidney and liver. If you have kidney or liver problems, you may need to use a lower dose to prevent more side effects.
            Sex
            • There have been reports of men having an erection lasting more than 4 hours while on Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate). This has been rare. If not treated in time, this can cause permanent damage to your penis, including impotence. Talk to your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if this happens.
            No specific sex-related info.
            Sleep
            No specific sleep-related info.
            • Effective in reducing excessive sleepiness in Shift-work Sleep Disorder.
            • Doesn't negatively affect daytime sleep.
            Weight
            • Appetite suppression may occur. In clinical studies, long-term treatment with stimulants similar to Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) caused a temporary slowing of growth rate (both height and weight) in children who started the medication between ages 7 and 10. Doctors should monitor children's growth during treatment.
            No specific weight-related info.
            Upsides and benefits
            FocalinProvigil
            • Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
            • Available as a generic medication.
            • Available in both an immediate-release form, which is given twice a day, and an extended-release form, which is given once a day.
            • Capsules can be opened and sprinkled in water or applesauce for people who don't like swallowing pills.
            • It's a non-amphetamine medicine that helps improve alertness.
            • Available in a generic version.
            • Effective in reducing excessive sleepiness in Shift-work Sleep Disorder.
            • Doesn't negatively affect daytime sleep.
            Downsides and risks
            FocalinProvigil
            • Needs to be taken in the morning and early afternoon, or else it can cause insomnia later that night.
            • It's a controlled medication and should be locked up to prevent potential abuse.
            • Provigil (Modafinil) can be habit-forming, so it's typically not used for long-term treatment.
            • Interacts with many other medications.
            • Taking Provigil (Modafinil) will make hormonal birth control less effective. You should definitely use additional forms of non-hormonal contraception.
            • Not a good choice if you have liver or kidney problems.
            Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
            FocalinProvigil
            • Store Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) in a locked area to prevent abuse.
            • Take it early in the morning to prevent insomnia later that night.
            • It can cause changes in your mood and vision.
            • Can raise your blood pressure and pulse, so it's not safe for people with heart problems.
            • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
            • The extended-release capsules can be opened and sprinkled on a small amount of applesauce.
            • Common side effects include a decreased appetite, nausea, and insomnia.
            • Take Provigil (Modafinil) about an hour before you need to be fully alert.
            • Taking caffeine with Provigil (Modafinil) can cause you to feel nervous, shaky, and have a faster heartbeat. Try limiting your caffeine intake.
            • Until you know how Provigil (Modafinil) makes you feel, don't drive or perform any tasks that need you to be alert.
            • You can experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking Provigil (Modafinil). Talk to your doctor before making any changes.
            • Tell your doctor right away if you break out in a rash.
            • Don't drink alcohol with Provigil (Modafinil).
            Learn more
            More about FocalinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
            More about ProvigilSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert