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Pentobarbital chemical structure
|ATC code |
|Elimination half-life||15-48 hours|
|Pregnancy category||D (USA)|
|Legal status||USA: Schedule II (oral and parenteral); Schedule III (rectal)|
|Routes of administration||Oral, Intravenous, Intramuscular, Rectal; also Intraperitoneal & Intracardiac (for animal euthanasia)|
Pentobarbital is a short acting barbiturate that is available as both a free acid and a sodium salt, the former of which is only slightly soluble in water and ethanol. One trade name for this drug is Nembutal®, coined by Dr. John S. Lundy, who started using it in 1930, from the structural formula of the sodium salt—Na (sodium) + ethyl + methyl + butyl + al (common suffix for barbiturates).
Uses[edit | edit source]
Approved[edit | edit source]
In France, it is used in the treatment of insomnia, and as a preanesthetic.
Unapproved/Investigational/Off-Label[edit | edit source]
Veterinary medicine[edit | edit source]
Veterinary Euthanasia[edit | edit source]
It is used by itself, or more often in combination with complementary agents such as phenytoin, in commercial animal euthanasia injectable solutions. Trade names include Euthasol, Euthatal, Beuthanasia-D and Fatal Plus.
Human Euthanasia[edit | edit source]
Pentobarbital has also been used for physician-assisted suicide. Pentobarbital was used for this purpose in the Northern Territory of Australia, prior to euthanasia becoming illegal. It is also commonly used in Oregon for physician assisted suicide. 
Folklore[edit | edit source]
The Beatles were accused of writing their 1966 hit Yellow Submarine while under the psychoactive effects of Nembutal, though band members denied the allegations.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Metabolism[edit | edit source]
Drug Interactions[edit | edit source]
Tricyclic antidepressants decrease serum levels of pentobarbital.
See also[edit | edit source]
References and End Notes[edit | edit source]
- Pentobarbital. San Diego Reference Laboratory: Technical Help. URL accessed on 16 July, 2005.
- Lee C. Fosburgh (1997). Imagining in Time: From this point in time: Some memories of my part in the history of anesthesia -- John S. Lundy, MD. American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Journal 65 (4): 323-8. PMID 9281913.
- Deglin, Judith Hopfer; April Hazard Vallerand  (2004-06-01). Davis's Drug Guide for Nurses, 9th edition, 789, F. A. Davis Company. ISBN 978-0-8036-1154-2. URL accessed 2005-07-16.
- VIDAL (2001). PENTOBARBITAL SODIQUE. Banque de Données Automatisée sur les Médicaments. URL accessed on May 2, 2006.
- UBC Committee on Animal Care (2005). Euthanasia. SOP 009E1 - euthanasia - overdose with pentobarbital. The University of British Columbia. URL accessed on 4 October, 2005.
- Unknown (2003). ANESTHESIA AND ANALGESIA. Animal Use Protocols. University of Virginia. URL accessed on 4 October, 2005.
- Goodenough, Patrick Campaigners Rally Round Right-To-Die Woman. CNSNews.com.
- Knodell, R. G., Spector MH, Brooks DA, Keller FX, Kyner WT. (December 1980). Alterations in pentobarbital pharmacokinetics in response to parenteral and enteral alimentation in the rat. Gastroenterology 79 (6): 1211-6. PMID 6777235.
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