Generic Name: pentobarbital (PEN toe BAR bi tal)Brand Names: Nembutal Sodium
Pentobarbital is in a group of drugs called barbiturates (bar-BIT-chur-ates). Pentobarbital slows the activity of your brain and nervous system.
Pentobarbital is used short-term to treat insomnia. Pentobarbital is also used as an emergency treatment for seizures, and to cause you to fall asleep for surgery.
Pentobarbital may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.What is the most important information I should know about Nembutal (pentobarbital)?You should not use this medication if you are allergic to pentobarbital, or if you have porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system).
Before using pentobarbital, tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney disease, chronic pain, severe or uncontrolled asthma or COPD, a history of mental illness or suicide attempt, or a history of addiction to drugs or alcohol.Pentobarbital may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Pentobarbital should never be shared with another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it. Pentobarbital can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert. Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol can also add to sleepiness caused by pentobarbital. Pentobarbital can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using a non-hormone method of birth control (such as a condom, diaphragm, spermicide) to prevent pregnancy while using pentobarbital.What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using Nembutal (pentobarbital)?You should not use this medication if you are allergic to pentobarbital, or if you have porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system).
If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use this medication:
severe or uncontrolled asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder);
a history of depression, mental illness, or suicide attempt; or
a history of drug or alcohol addiction.
Pentobarbital is given as an injection into a muscle or vein. Your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider will give you this injection. You may be shown how to inject your medicine at home. Do not self-inject this medicine if you do not fully understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of needles, IV tubing, and other items used in giving the medicine.
When injected into a vein, pentobarbital must be given slowly.
Use each disposable needle only one time. Throw away used needles in a puncture-proof container (ask your pharmacist where you can get one and how to dispose of it). Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.Do not stop using pentobarbital suddenly after using it long-term, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor about how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when you stop using pentobarbital.
To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your blood may need to be tested on a regular basis. Your kidney or liver function may also need to be tested. Do not miss any follow-up visits to your doctor.If you store pentobarbital at home, keep it at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Keep track of how much of this medicine has been used. Pentobarbital is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if any person in the household is using this medicine improperly or without a prescription.
Since pentobarbital is often used only when needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. If you are using the medication regularly, use the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
Overdose symptoms may include pinpoint or dilated pupils, weak or limp feeling, urinating less than usual or not at all, fast heart rate, slow heart rate, weak pulse, fainting, slow breathing (breathing may stop).
weak or shallow breathing;
slow heart rate, weak pulse; or
feeling like you might pass out.
Less serious side effects may include:
problems with memory or concentration;
excitement, irritability, or aggression (especially in children or older adults);
loss of balance or coordination;
nausea, vomiting, constipation;
"hangover" effect (drowsiness the day after a dose).
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Tell your doctor about all other medications you use, especially:
a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin);
doxycycline (Adoxa, Doryx, Mondox, Oracea, Vibramycin, and others);
other seizure medications such as divalproex (Depakote), phenytoin (Dilantin), or valproic acid (Depakene);
an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate);
griseofulvin (Grisactin, Fulvicin PG, Grifulvin V);
birth control pills or hormone replacement estrogens; or
steroids such as prednisone (Orasone, Deltasone), prednisolone (Prelone, Delta Cortef), methylprednisolone (Medrol), and others.
This is not a complete list and there may be other drugs that can interact with pentobarbital. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.