Nembutal Side Effects
Generic Name: pentobarbital
Note: This page contains side effects data for the generic drug pentobarbital. It is possible that some of the dosage forms included below may not apply to the brand name Nembutal.
For the Consumer
Applies to pentobarbital: injectable solution
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
confusion, agitation, hallucinations;
weak or shallow breathing;
slow heart rate, weak pulse; or
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out.
Side effects such as confusion, depression, or excitement may be more likely in older adults and those who are ill or debilitated.
Common side effects may include:
loss of balance or coordination;
nausea, vomiting, constipation;
sleep problems (insomnia), nightmares; or
feeling restless or excited (especially in children or older adults).
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
For Healthcare Professionals
Applies to pentobarbital: compounding powder, injectable solution, oral capsule, oral elixir, rectal suppository
Behavioral problems, impaired memory, impaired cognition, decreased perceptuomotor performance, tics, dyskinesias, nystagmus, oculogyric crises, dystonic reactions, and ataxia have also been reported.[Ref]
Nervous system side effects have been common and have included drowsiness, sedation, lethargy, and somnolence. Paradoxical stimulation has also been reported in the elderly.[Ref]
Respiratory side effects including life threatening respiratory depression have been reported, particularly during acute intoxication.[Ref]
Withdrawal symptoms may include hallucinations, sweating, insomnia, and hypertension.
An increased frequency of seizures may occur if barbiturate therapy is suddenly discontinued.[Ref]
Other side effects from pentobarbital use have included physical and psychological dependence. Withdrawal symptoms have been reported when pentobarbital therapy has been discontinued suddenly.[Ref]
Cardiovascular side effects including hypotension and bradycardia have been reported.[Ref]
Musculoskeletal side effects including myopathy in association with anticonvulsant osteomalacia has been reported in patients taking other barbiturates. Reflex sympathetic dystrophy of the upper extremities, Dupuytren's contractures, Peyronie's disease, the "shoulder-hand syndrome" and other musculoskeletal and joint pains have been reported in as many as 5% of patients treated with other barbiturates.[Ref]
Hypersensitivity side effects have included a variety of hypersensitivity reactions reported in association with use of pentobarbital (the active ingredient contained in Nembutal) and other barbiturates. The reactions frequently involved generalized rashes, fever, and hepatic derangements.[Ref]
The more serious hepatic effects have often been reported in association with hypersensitivity reactions.[Ref]
Hepatic side effects including elevated liver function tests, hepatitis, cholestasis, and fulminant hepatic failure have all been reported in association with use of other barbiturates.[Ref]
Hematologic side effects including macrocytosis and, more rarely, megaloblastic anemia have been reported with use of other barbiturates.[Ref]
Animal studies have suggested that pentobarbital may inhibit prostaglandin l2 and thereby promote platelet aggregation.[Ref]
Endocrine side effects including alterations in vitamin D metabolism have been reported in patients taking barbiturates and other anticonvulsants. Hypocalcemia and osteomalacia have been specifically reported.[Ref]
Oncologic side effects have been reported. Some investigators have reported a possible increased frequency of malignancy (particularly brain tumors, lung cancer, and liver cancer) in patients taking pentobarbital (the active ingredient contained in Nembutal) and other barbiturates chronically. Other investigators have not found an association with malignancy.[Ref]
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3. Martin WR, Thompson WO, Fraser HF "Comparison of graded single intramuscular doses of morphine and pentobarbital in man." Clin Pharmacol Ther 15 (1974): 623-30
4. Shapiro S, Slone D, Lewis GP, Jick H "Clinical effects of hypnotics. II. An epidemiologic study." JAMA 209 (1969): 2016-20
5. Lessell S, Wolf PA, Chronley D "Prolonged vertical nystagmus after pentobarbital sodium administration." Am J Ophthalmol 80 (1975): 151-2
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7. Theodore WH, Porter RJ, Raubertas RF "Seizures during barbiturate withdrawal: relation to blood level." Ann Neurol 22 (1987): 644-7
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11. Teba L, Weber S "Intensive management of severe head injury." Chest 99 (1991): 1551-2
12. Marsden CD, Reynolds EH, Parsons V, Harris R, Duchen L "Myopathy associated with anticonvulsant osteomalacia." Br Med J 4 (1973): 526-7
13. Doriguzzi C, Mongini T, Jeantet A, Monga G "Tubular aggregates in a case of osteomalacic myopathy due to anticonvulsant drugs." Clin Neuropathol 3 (1984): 42-5
14. Shear NH, Spielberg SP "Anticonvulsant hypersensitivity syndrome. In vitro assessment of risk." J Clin Invest 82 (1988): 1826-32
15. Wilensky AJ "Phenytoin hypersensitivity." JAMA 237 (1977): 2600-1
16. Jezequel AM, Librari ML, Mosca P, Novelli G, Lorenzini I, Orlandi F "Changes induced in human liver by long-term anticonvulsant therapy. Functional and ultrastructural data." Liver 4 (1984): 307-17
17. Ward JM, Konishi N, Ostergaard K "Hepatic lesions in Danish epileptics after long-term exposure to anticonvulsant drugs including phenobarbitone." J Natl Cancer Inst 81 (1989): 1753-4
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19. Van Hoof A, Chamone DA, Vermylen J "Platelet aggregation and anaesthesia." Lancet 2 (1980): 373
20. Kiorboe E, Plum CM "Megaloblastic anaemia developing during treatment of epilepsy." Acta Med Scand Suppl 445 (1966): 349-57
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It is possible that some side effects of Nembutal may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.
More about Nembutal (pentobarbital)
- Other brands: Nembutal Sodium
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