Meet the Drug That's Powering Wall Street

Prescriptions for Modafinil up 10-fold in decade

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 7, 2013 5:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – Cocaine may no longer be the drug that fuels Wall Street. Instead, traders and start-up entrepreneurs looking to work hard rather than party hard are increasingly turning to a Modafinil—a "smart drug" said to have inspired the film Limitless, in which a writer pops a pill that allows him to tap into 100% of his brain capacity. The drug is intended to treat narcolepsy, but time-poor traders use it to stay awake and hyper-alert for long periods of work, reports New York. "I would describe it as being very much like Adderall, but without the speediness,” says Peter Borden, a former user.

Prescriptions for Modafinil in the US have increased almost tenfold over the past decade, mostly for off-label use, according to a study published in Internal Medicine. It was originally believed to be non-addictive, but a 2009 study found that may not be the case. Borden says that for him, withdrawals were so bad he had to quit the drug: "It was sort of like being thrust into dirty, messy reality, as opposed to a clean, neatly organized place. It was like crashing."

Bradley Cooper in Limitless.
Bradley Cooper in "Limitless."   (MovieWeb)
Traders gather on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Traders gather on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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