Modafinil to treat fatigue in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: An open label pilot study

Gregory T. Carter, Michael D. Weiss, Jau Shin Lou, Mark P. Jensen, R. Ted Abresch, Tara K. Martin, Thomas W. Hecht, Jay J. Han, Patrick Weydt, George H. Kraft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


An open label trial of modafinil was conducted to determine whether it would be tolerated and effective in treating fatigue for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Fifteen patients with ALS were treated for two weeks with either 200 mg or 400 mg of modafinil. Reported side effects of the medication were mild and included diarrhea, headache, nervousness, and insomnia. Side effects did not result in any study dropouts. Following treatment, mean scores on the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) decreased from 51.3 (SD 9.2) to 42.8 (SD 10.2). On the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), mean scores decreased from 8.2 (SD 2.0) to 4.5 (SD 2.4). Reductions in both the FSS and the ESS were significant at p < 0.001. Mean scores on the self-report version of the Functional Independence Measure (FIM-SR) increased from 115.2 (SD 5.6) to 118.1 (SD 5.4), with p < 0.01. This pilot study suggests that modafinil is well-tolerated and may reduce symptoms of fatigue in ALS. Further blinded, controlled studies of modafinil in larger numbers of ALS patients are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-59
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Fatigue
  • Functional independence measure
  • Modafinil
  • Motor neuron disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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