Nembutal Sodium

Generic Name: pentobarbital (PEN toe BAR bi tal)
Brand Name: Nembutal Sodium

What is Nembutal Sodium (pentobarbital)?

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 Sodium (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.

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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 Sodium (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:

  • liver disease;

  • kidney disease;

  • chronic pain;

  • 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 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.

FDA pregnancy category D. Do not use pentobarbital without telling your doctor if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Pentobarbital may cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms in a newborn if the mother uses the medication during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

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.

Pentobarbital can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Older adults may be more likely to have side effects from this medication.

How should I take Nembutal Sodium (pentobarbital)?

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.

What happens if I miss a dose?

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.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. An overdose of pentobarbital can be fatal.

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).

What should I avoid while taking Nembutal Sodium (pentobarbital)?

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 add to sleepiness caused by pentobarbital, which could be dangerous.

Nembutal Sodium (pentobarbital) side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • confusion, hallucinations;

  • 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;

  • nightmares;

  • nausea, vomiting, constipation;

  • headache; or

  • "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.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Nembutal Sodium (pentobarbital)?

Before using pentobarbital, tell your doctor if you regularly use other medicines that make you sleepy (such as cold or allergy medicine, sedatives, narcotic pain medicine, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures, depression, or anxiety). They can cause add to sleepiness caused by pentobarbital, which could be dangerous.

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.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about pentobarbital.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.02. Revision Date: 2010-12-15, 5:01:39 PM.

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