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Many Canadian students are using modafinil for boosting their study efforts.
The drug is available online (there is the only vendor on the market who ships modafinil to Canada) and promotes wakefulness for several hours and can dramatically improve work productivity.
Modafinil is part of a class of drugs known as eugeroics. These drugs work by flipping an “on switch” in the brain, making us feel alert and awake even after several hours of exhaustive studying.
Unlike other eugeroics, modafinil has few side effects and is considered to be one of the safest pharmaceutical options available.
The laws around buying prescription medications like modafinil can vary a lot from one country to the next.
Here we look at the laws specific to Canada and answer a few questions around the legality and availability of modafinil to those living on Canadian soil.
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What is Modafinil Used For?
Modafinil is listed as a prescription-only medication in Canada, however, it’s not labeled for ADD/ADHD, narcolepsy, or sleeping disorder that causes sufferers to fall asleep suddenly at random points in the day in Canada. According to our copy of the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties, it is prescribed for excessive sleepiness due to narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, circadian rhythm disorder, and shift work disorder. This makes it much harder to obtain a prescription as any use of ADHD would be off-label and a lot of doctors won’t do that. So, don’t go in and ask for it for your ADHD, as you likely won’t get an Rx this way. Once again, modafinil is prescribed by doctors for conditions like excessive sleepiness due to narcolepsy, not for ADD/ADHD.
1. Modafinil for ADHD
Many people with ADHD have been shown to have lower levels of dopamine in the brain . This important neurotransmitter plays a crucial role in our body’s reward center.
The reward center is responsible for developing habits and helps us concentrate on specific tasks.
When we do something that benefits us, the reward center gives us a dose of a chemical called oxytocin, which is what makes us feel happy. Our body loves this compound and wants to perform activities that release this chemical more often.
It’s our brain’s way of managing positive reinforcement.
In the brains of those who have ADHD, dopamine levels are often low, which makes it harder to stimulate the reward center in the brain. People with ADHD need to work extra hard to stimulate this region of the brain resulting in poor focus and fidgety behavior.
Modafinil Increases dopamine levels, making it easier to trigger the reward center. This makes it much easier to concentrate and remain productive with the condition.
2. Modafinil for Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a sleeping disorder whereby sufferers can suddenly, without warning, drop into a deep sleep. Even while awake, sufferers often experience significant daytime drowsiness, which can have a profoundly negative impact on day to day activities.
Modafinil stimulates a region of the brain known as the orexin system.
Orexin (also known as hypocretin) is an important part of the central nervous system. It’s responsible for regulating the wake portion of the sleep-wake cycle.
People with narcolepsy who take modafinil often experience full remission of their symptoms.
3. Off-Label Uses for Modafinil
Outside of the prescribed uses, modafinil has become popular with Canadians as a way to boost productivity at university, work, or with creative projects like writing or painting.
Many people use it as a boost while learning a new language, working on a tough or tedious project, or getting through long shifts at work.
In recent years, modafinil has become a popular nootropic drug for business executives and CEOs. It’s popular among people lower down the ranks seeking to move up by outperforming their colleagues.
There are many benefits to modafinil outside of the prescribed uses which have many Canadians wondering how they can get their hands on some of it for themselves.
Buying Modafinil in Canada
Although you can buy modafinil in pharmacies, you need a prescription to get it. Additionally, most pharmacies will charge an arm and a leg for brand name modafinil — which can be as high as $65 CAD.
Online is the preferred option for most regular modafinil users in Canada. Generic versions of the drug-like Modalert and Modvigil, as well as armodafinil generics such as Waklert and Artvigil are significantly cheaper than brand name versions — without sacrificing quality.
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How to Get a Prescription for Modafinil in Canada
Getting a prescription for modafinil isn’t easy in Canada.
In order to get one, the doctor needs to identify one of the following:
- Narcolepsy (confirmed by a sleep test)
- Sleep apnoea (confirmed by a sleep test)
- Night shift workers (confirmed by a reference from employer)
If you’re suffering from any of these conditions, or have proof that you do shift work (involving both day and night shifts), you may be eligible for a prescription for modafinil from a GP. Once again, modafinil is not labeled for ADD/ADHD (a sleeping disorder that causes sufferers to fall asleep suddenly at random points in the day) in Canada.
How Much Does Modafinil Cost?
With a prescription, you have access to modafinil from local pharmacies. The cost of these medications can be fairly high at around $5 per day for Alertec. These prices are protected by Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.
Comparatively, online sources list generic versions of modafinil at prices as low as $1.00 CAD per dose.
These generic versions contain the same doses and active ingredients but are made by other companies. The most common generic versions of modafinil include HAB Pharmaceuticals Modvigil and Sun Pharmaceuticals Modalert.
Is Modafinil Legal in Canada?
Modafinil is available in Canada, mainly as the brand name products, Alertec and Provigil®.
Online sources offer other versions of the drug, such as Modalert and Modvigil.
Canadian drug laws can be confusing, so let’s break it down;
When a medication is made, it needs to be sent to Health Canada for review. The department assesses the product and then issues a license when the drug is approved.
The drug then gets reviewed by another agency, known as NAPRA (National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities), who decides whether the drug requires prescription status or not.
Schedule I: Prescription-Only Drug
Modafinil and modafinil salts are classified as a schedule I medications, which require a doctor’s prescription prior to purchase.
Other Schedule I drugs include opium, codeine, and morphine.
Regulating Schedule I Drugs in Canada
The NAPRA is responsible for regulating the sale of all prescription medications. They keep detailed information about all pharmacies selling these drugs and track how many doses are sold to each patient.
Most of this information is listed publicly on their website. In total there are 41,661 licensed pharmacists allowed to sell prescription-only medications like modafinil. The majority of which are located in Ontario.
Controlled Substances Laws in Canada
Canada has a list of substances that it prohibits anybody on Canadian soil from possessing. The list, known as the Controlled Drug Substances Act, includes Schedule I, II, and III substances purchased without a prescription.
This act is enforced by both local and federal governments, including border security officers.
Modafinil is not explicitly listed on the controlled substances act. This is why the laws around modafinil are so confusing in Canada — it’s illegal to buy the drug anywhere without a prescription.
Online vendors sell the drug without requiring a prescription because they’re operating out of a region that doesn’t have these same laws — such as India.
Buying Modafinil Online in Canada
In order to purchase a schedule, I drug like modafinil from pharmacies in Canada a valid doctor’s prescription needs to be shown at the time of purchase. It’s not legal to buy modafinil from any online source in Canada, even with a prescription. This is because NARPA can’t effectively track online resellers the way they can for in-store pharmacies.
Some vendors offer generic versions of modafinil for sale without asking for a prescription.
This is considered a legal grey area because although it’s not possible to purchase modafinil in Canada from registered pharmacies (both online and in-store), it’s relatively easy to order them online from overseas.
Canadian customs are particularly tricky to get through with prescription medications. If border security officials find it, they will send a letter to the ordering address asking for proof of prescription. If the prescription can’t be submitted within a month, the package is destroyed.
For this reason, many modafinil resellers refuse to ship to Canada without the help of a mail forwarding service.
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What’s a Mail Forwarding Service?
A mail forwarding service allows people in one country to send packages to a US address, which has far more relaxed laws on buying medications online. The company will then resend the package from the US to Canada using another shipping company. It’s an excellent way to order items online that can only be sent to US addresses, such as modafinil or other online pharmaceuticals.
A forwarding service will manage customs for you, removing most of the headaches involved with the process. They provide you with a US address and will forward the package once it arrives.
One of the most popular mail forwarding services used by Canadians is Parcl. This service will cost $64 extra to get it through to Canada.
Another good option is Shipito, especially if you will be ordering frequently to a US address.
Summary of Buying Modafinil in Canada
Modafinil is only available for purchase in a registered pharmacy and with a doctor’s prescription in Canada. It can be bought online from various overseas vendors without needing to submit a prescription.
The border security in Canada is strict and may stop your package at the border. If this happens, you’ll need to submit a prescription to have it sent the rest of the way.
Want to inquire about buying this nootropic in other countries? You don’t have to look far! We’ve made a beginner’s guide on how to get modafinil online worldwide. Start reading!
In most cases, a mail-forwarding service is needed to get modafinil through to Canada. Items are shipped to an address in the United States and then forwarded across the border.
This significantly increases the chances of your modafinil making its way to your door successfully.
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- Li, D., Sham, P. C., Owen, M. J., & He, L. (2006). Meta-analysis shows significant association between dopamine system genes and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Human molecular genetics, 15(14), 2276-2284.