Are you living in Australia and looking for a good source of modafinil?
The drug laws in Australia can be confusing, and in such a conservative country, fairly outdated at times.
For this reason, we’ve set out to debunk some of the theories around modafinil use in Australia, investigate their drug scheduling classifications— and talk about how and where you can buy modafinil in Australia.
Modafinil Use in Australia
In recent years, the public interest in nootropics (including modafinil) has significantly increased. People are looking for ways to increase their productivity to perform better at work, finish tough projects, or boost their own creative process.
Modafinil is quickly becoming a staple medication for improving productivity.
Unfortunately, the laws around modafinil in Australia are limiting but the drug can be purchased easily online if you know where to get it.
Brand Name Modafinil in Australia & New Zealand
With a doctor’s prescription, Australians (and New Zealanders) can purchase modafinil from the chemist shops and pharmacies.
The brand name version currently sold in Australia and New Zealand is called Modavigil, made by TEVA Pharmaceuticals. Some pharmacies will also carry either Alertec or Provigil, made by Cephalon Inc.
Other Names Modafinil is Sold Under Includes:
- Modalert (Sun Pharmaceuticals)
- Modvigil (HAB Pharmaceuticals)
- Alertec (Cephalon Inc)
- Provigil® (Cephalon Inc)
- Vilafinil (Centurian Labs)
- Modaheal (Healing Pharmaceuticals)
- Modafresh (Sunrise Pharmaceuticals)
- Modafil MD (INTAS)
- Modawake (HAB Pharmaceuticals)
Where to Buy Modafinil in Australia
If you have a prescription, you can purchase your modafinil from pharmacies (Chemist shops). These sources are often costly as they generally only sell brand name versions.
The most common source for modafinil in Australia is online.
Most online vendors offer two versions of modafinil (Modalert & Modvigil) and two versions of armodafinil (Waklert & Artvigil). They also sell modafinil at a fraction of the cost of brand-name versions and don’t require a prescription to make a purchase.
What Modafinil is Used for
Modafinil has two primary uses medically:
- It’s used to treat sleeping disorders like narcolepsy
- It’s used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Outside these prescribed uses, however, modafinil is used to promote wakefulness and productivity at work, while studying, or while away on trips where jet lag would otherwise cause problems with productivity and work performance.
Examples of Off-Label Modafinil Use Includes:
- Productivity enhancement
- Support for late night study sessions
- Enduring long work hours
- Shift-workers experiencing sleep disturbances
- Reducing the effects of jet lag
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Parkinson’s Disease symptoms
- Multiple Sclerosis (the fatigue side effects)
- Myotonic dystrophy
- Sleep induced by opioid medications
- Fibromyalgia (fatigue symptoms)
- Cerebral palsy
How Modafinil Works
Modafinil works on a series of receptors in the brain involved with the process of wakefulness.
They increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, boost a protein known as orexin that is used to regulate the waking portion of the sleep-wake cycle, and increase histamine levels in the brain.
All of these effects combined causes an increase in the feeling of wakefulness. It can effectively delay the onset of sleep for several hours.
Modafinil is similar in this regard to other stimulants like caffeine, amphetamine (Adderall) and Methylphenidate (Ritalin), though with fewer side effects.
Legal Status of Modafinil in Australia
In Australia, drugs are classified by the Therapeutic Goods Act (TGA) in groups depending on their potential for abuse (how addictive and dangerous they are). They call this drug scheduling.
Modafinil is considered a schedule 4 medication, which means it comes with some limitations.
Making Sense of the Drug Scheduling System In Australia
According to the Therapeutic Goods Act (TGA) in Australia:
Schedule 1: Not in use
Schedule 1 is not used as a classification in Australia.
The official legislation details for medication, and poison scheduling in Australia has no listed information on schedule 1.
Schedule 2: Pharmacy only medicine
These medications are considered safe for use but are available only from pharmacies.
Examples of Schedule 2 Medications Include:
- Dextromethorphan (Cough medicine)
- Paracetamol packages containing more than 24 tablets (considered a lethal dose if taken all at once) (Pain medication)
- Non-sedating antihistamines (Allergy medications)
- Acetic acid (Manufacturing additive)
- N-Acetylcysteine (Paracetamol overdose)
- Aconitum (Less than 0.2mg total alkaloid content) (Homeopathic remedy)
- Aspirin (Pain medication)
- Benzocaine (Pain medication)
- Ether (Manufacturing additive)
- Fluorides (Used in dentistry)
- Hydrocortisone (Pain medication)
- Ibuprofen (Pain medication)
- Ipratropium (Asthma medication)
- Lithium (Anti Anxiety medication)
- Paracetamol (Pain medication)
- Selenium (Trace mineral)
Schedule 3: Pharmacist-Only Medicines
These medications are considered to be very safe, but can only be dispensed from a registered pharmacist.
They’re listed this way to ensure that someone knowledgeable on the condition being treated can screen patients before the drugs are brought home. This ensures there are no serious complications the customer is trying to self-treat and educates the customer of any possible dangers associated with their medications.
This also gives the consumer an opportunity to ask essential questions about the medication and gives the pharmacist a chance to catch potentially life-threatening conditions that a customer may be avoiding or is unaware of.
Some states in Australia have variations on how Schedule 3 medications need to be managed, and what requirements the pharmacist need to meet to sell them to the customer.
The Australian government tracks them by taking the name and details of the customers at the time of purchase. Side effects from these medications are also closely monitored and recorded.
Examples of Schedule 3 Medications Include:
- Orlistat (Anti Obesity medication)
- Pseudoephedrine (Cold/Flu medication)
- Salbutamol (Asthma medication)
Schedule 4: Prescription Only Medications
This is the schedule modafinil is listed under.
Schedule 4 medications require a doctor’s prescription to purchase. These also include many veterinary medications.
Schedule 4 drugs either have a high potential for abuse and addiction, require monitoring to ensure dosages are used correctly or are used to treat conditions that require management by a medical professional.
This classification is also given to many new medications to allow a medical professional to monitor them to assess safety and efficacy.
This is the classification that modafinil is contained under.
The Australian government subsidizes many schedule 4 medications through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Other limitations of this schedule classification involve advertising. No schedule 4 medication can be advertised to the public.
Examples of Schedule 4 Medications Includes:
- Modafinil (Narcolepsy/ADHD medication)
- Amoxicillin (Antibiotic)
- Cannabidiol (Pain medication)
- Ephedrine (Cold/Flu medication)
- Estradiol (Birth control medication)
- Tramadol (Pain medication)
- Benzodiazepines (Sedative medications)
- SSRIs (Antidepressant medications)
- SNRIs (Antidepressant medications)
- TCAs (Antidepressant medications)
- MAOIs (Antidepressant medications)
Schedule 5: Caution
These medications require clear warning labels to identify their dangers or to indicate their low dosages.
To classify as a Schedule 5 medication, the compound needs to have only mild adverse effects and possess only a modest hazard to human health within recommended doses.
This often includes industrial compounds like methanol, pesticides, and some heavy metals.
Schedule 6: Poisons
These substances are considered poisons by the TGA in Australia. They require clear warning signs that indicate moderate to severe toxicity. These substances have specific criteria that need to be met to store and sell these substances.
Examples of Schedule 6 Substances Include:
- Ammonia (Refrigerant)
- Amitraz (Insecticide)
- Aspirin (In veterinary applications)
- Azadirachta Indica (Neem) (Medicinal plant)
- Barium salts (Manufacturing additive)
Schedule 7: Dangerous Drugs
Schedule 7 drugs have a high potential for causing harm. The TGA makes special considerations before someone is allowed to purchase or use these substances in Australia.
Examples of Schedule 7 Substances Include:
- Cyanides (Manufacturing additive)
- Arsenic (Manufacturing additive)
- DDT (pesticide)
- Mirex (Pesticide)
- Thallium (Rat poison)
Schedule 8: Controlled Drugs
These medications have therapeutic benefit but also have a high potential for abuse or addiction.
Not only is a doctor’s prescription required before these medications can be purchased, but they are explicitly illegal to possess without a prescription. These medications often have a high prevalence or severity of side effects and are less commonly prescribed than schedule 4 prescription medications. Very specific criteria must be met for a medical practitioner to prescribe these medicines.
All purchasing and usage of these drugs are also closely monitored by the Australian government.
Examples of Schedule 8 Medications Include:
- Morphine (Pain medication)
- Hydrocodone (Sedative/Pain medication)
- Methamphetamine (ADD/ADHD medication)
- GHB (General anesthetic)
- Oxycodone (Pain medication)
- Pethidine (Pain medication)
- Prodine (Sedative/Pain medication)
- Codeine (Cough/Pain medication)
- Buprenorphine (Opioid addiction medication)
- Amphetamine (ADD/ADHD medication)
Schedule 9: Prohibited Substances
These medications or substances are only permitted for research purposes and are not legally sold under any condition to the general public.
Even research use is heavily regulated, and all cases require the approval and investigation by an ethics committee.
Examples of Schedule 9 Substances Include:
- Benzylpiperazine (Recreational stimulant)
- Marijuana (Psychoactive recreational drug)
- DMT (Recreational psychoactive drug)
- Harmaline (Recreational psychoactive drug)
- Heroin (Opioid drug)
- 2C-B (Recreational psychoactive drug)
- LSD (Recreational psychoactive drug)
- Psilocybin (Recreational psychoactive drug)
- Salvia divinorum (Recreational psychoactive plant)
Why is Modafinil Considered Schedule 4?
Many of the medications listed as Schedule 4 are considered for their risk of addiction, though not to the same extent as Schedule 8 medications.
Modafinil is often thought of as addictive because it binds to many of the same places as the highly addictive, illicit drug cocaine . Some published case studies are highlighting the addictive potential of Modafinil as well in online scientific journals .
Even though modafinil binds to some of the same receptors that cocaine does, it isn’t that simple.
The way chemicals bind to one substance, or another can vary a lot and can have profound differences in how addictive, dangerous, or useful they are. The Australian government is notorious for taking an overly simplistic approach to the way they regulate various substances.
A recent example of this is a recent banning of the medicinal plant known as kava. In 2015, the TGA banned the import and sale of the herb due to concerns over potential liver toxicity of the plant.
It took the efforts from a sizeable herbal medicine manufacturer, Mediherb to prove that this was not the case in properly manufactured kava extracts, and was able to bring kava back to the marketplace.
It’s likely that Modafinil is listed as Schedule 4 due to concerns over addiction, even though this potential is shallow.
Shipping Modafinil to Australia: Is It legal?
Although Modafinil is considered a Schedule 4 substance in Australia, it isn’t outright illegal.
How Does This Work?
Australian laws prohibit the sale of modafinil without a prescription in Australia.
The TGA is clear on what medications can and can’t be imported into the country, as well as what consequences will result if these rules are not followed.
The Office of Drug Control in Australia offers a public list of controlled substances. These substances are prohibited from importing without a permit into Australia.
Modafinil is not on this list.
The TGA does, however, say that any prescription medications ordered online should have a copy of your prescription included from the manufacturer/seller. If these medications are caught at the border, they will be held until a prescription can be submitted.
If this doesn’t happen, the shipment will eventually be destroyed.
In reality, this rarely happens.
Most medications make it through border security without any issues, and border officials rarely confirm prescription status on these medications. They appear to be more focused on identifying illicit substances like heroin or cocaine and shipments containing biological cultures that may disrupt the ecological balance.
How Companies Can Sell Prescription Only Modafinil Without Prescription
In Australia, if a company were to sell modafinil to someone without a prescription, they would be subject to massive fines and may even be shut down until they can remedy the situation. As a result, no pharmacy or distributor in Australia will sell modafinil to someone without a prescription for it.
This is reasonably easy to get around thanks to the internet.
Other countries, like India or Mexico, don’t have these same laws. Modafinil can be sold freely from companies operating out of these regions.
This is where most of the modafinil comes from when purchased online. Companies can buy the modafinil in bulk from Indian manufacturers and then resell them to people all over the world.
Summarizing Modafinil Laws in Australia
Modafinil is considered a prescription-only medication in Australia.
Importing prescription medications technically require a copy of the prescription in order for border security officials to confirm before allowing the package to enter the country.
In the majority of cases, these packages aren’t screened in detail and are allowed to enter the country without any delays.
In some cases, however, border security officials will identify the contents of the package as modafinil and will hold the package until a prescription can be submitted. If this doesn’t happen, the contents are destroyed.
- Dackis, C. A., Kampman, K. M., Lynch, K. G., Pettinati, H. M., & O’brien, C. P. (2005). A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of modafinil for cocaine dependence. Neuropsychopharmacology, 30(1), 205.
- Krishnan, R., & Chary, K. V. (2015). A rare case modafinil dependence. Journal of pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics, 6(1), 49.