Nuvigil is the slight new tweak on Cephalon's Provigil, a narcolepsy drug that became a big off-label brain hack hit for its ability to keep you awake without the jittery side effects of typical speed compounds. The company is banking on Nuvigil becoming the first FDA-approved "treatment" for jet lag. Of course, some jet setters and business travelers have been using Provigil for that very purpose since the drug's launch. So why Cephalon's big Nuvigil push and the jet lag "antidote" approval? Well, Provigil goes generic in just two years while the Nuvigil patent is protected until 2024. From the New York Times:
Cephalon plans to aim Nuvigil at business travelers who might go to Europe for a couple of days, not those staying longer term. For a short trip, "you don't want to shift your circadian clock very much," said Dr. Lesley Russell, Cephalon's chief medical officer.
The company's executives are not predicting how much an approval for jet lag would add to Nuvigil sales. The drug would be taken for only a day or two to treat jet lag, whereas other uses involve taking it for long periods…
To get (existing) patients to shift (from Provigil to Nuvigil), Cephalon has raised the wholesale price of Provigil to $13.60, from about $5.50 a pill five years ago, including a 29 percent increase in November. So Provigil is now 50 percent more expensive than Nuvigil.