Drugs A - Z

Pentobarbital Sodium Solution for injection

It is a sedative that is used to treat sleeping problems

Generic Name: pentobarbital

Brand Names: Nembutal, Nembutal Sodium, Pentobarbital Sodium

What is this medicine?

PENTOBARBITAL (pen toe BAR bi tal) is a barbiturate. It is a sedative that is used to treat sleeping problems. It is used before surgery to induce sleep. It is also used to treat seizures in an emergency.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • depression
  • drug abuse or addiction
  • if you frequently drink alcohol containing drinks
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • lung or breathing disease, like asthma
  • porphyria
  • suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempt; a previous suicide attempt by you or a family member
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to pentobarbital, other barbiturates, medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

This medicine is for injection into a muscle or a vein. It is given by a health care professional in a hospital or clinic setting.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

Patients over 65 years old may have a stronger reaction and need a smaller dose.

What if I miss a dose?

This does not apply.

What may interact with this medicine?

Do not take this medicine with any of the following medications:
  • voriconazole

This medicine may also interact with the following medications:

  • alcohol
  • antihistamines for allergy, cough and cold
  • cyclosporine
  • doxycycline
  • female hormones, like estrogens or progestins and birth control pills
  • griseofulvin
  • imatinib
  • kava kava
  • MAOIs like Carbex, Eldepryl, Marplan, Nardil, and Parnate
  • medicines for depression, anxiety, or psychotic disturbances
  • medicines for seizures
  • medicines for sleep
  • muscle relaxants
  • narcotic medicines for pain
  • other barbiturates
  • primidone
  • quinidine
  • steroid medicines like prednisone or cortisone
  • valerian
  • warfarin

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Your condition will be monitored carefully while you are receiving this medicine.

You may develop tolerance to the medicine. Tolerance means that you will need a higher dose of the medicine for pain relief. Tolerance is normal and is expected if you take the medicine for a long time.

Do not suddenly stop taking your medicine because you may develop a severe reaction. Your body becomes used to the medicine. This does NOT mean you are addicted. Addiction is a behavior related to getting and using a drug for a non-medical reason. If you have pain, you have a medical reason to take pain medicine. Your doctor will tell you how much medicine to take. If your doctor wants you to stop the medicine, the dose will be slowly lowered over time to avoid any side effects.

You may get drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness until you know how this medicine affects you. Do not stand or sit up quickly, especially if you are an older patient. This reduces the risk of dizzy or fainting spells. Alcohol may interfere with the effect of this medicine. Avoid alcoholic drinks.

The use of this medicine may increase the chance of suicidal thoughts or actions. Pay special attention to how you are responding while on this medicine. Any worsening of mood, or thoughts of suicide or dying should be reported to your health care professional right away.


Last Updated: July 21, 2009
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