Can we use Modafinil as a Stimulant for Military Aviators?

Research Paper Title

Modafinil as a Stimulant for Military Aviators.

Background

Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting stimulant that has been approved by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) as a fatigue countermeasure medication since 2011.

Each RSAF aircrew member must undergo a ground test to exclude operationally relevant adverse drug effects prior to consuming the medication for operational reasons.

This study describes the RSAF’s modafinil ground testing outcomes over a 7-yr period.

Methods

This is a retrospective case series of 243 RSAF aircrew members who underwent modafinil 100-mg test dosing over the 7-yr period from September 2011 to September 2018.

Results

The median age was 31 yr (range, 21-53 yr) and mean age was 31.7 yr ± 6.19 yr. Of the aircrew members, 234 (96.3%) were men and all were of Asian ethnicity. Of the subjects, 237 (97.5%) were medically cleared for the operational use of modafinil.

Among the six (2.47%) who failed modafinil ground testing, headache (cumulative incidence, 1.65%), anxiety (cumulative incidence, 0.41%), diarrhea (cumulative incidence, 0.41%), and insomnia (cumulative incidence, 0.41%) were reported as the side effects experienced. None of the aircrew members experienced major adverse drug events.

Conclusions

The findings suggest a low occurrence of adverse drug effects among military aircrew members who undergo modafinil test dosing prior to using the drug operationally.

To the researchers knowledge, this is the single largest published case series of modafinil ground testing outcomes among Asian military aviators.

Reference

Ooi, T., Wong, S.H. & See, B. (2019) Modafinil as a Stimulant for Military Aviators. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance. 90(5), pp.480-483. doi: 10.3357/AMHP.5298.2019.

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