Systematic (IUPAC) name
Clinical data
AHFS/ monograph
MedlinePlus a682416
Pregnancy cat. D (USA)
Legal status USA: Schedule II (oral and parenteral); Schedule III (rectal), UK: Class B Controlled Substance
Routes Oral, Intravenous, Intramuscular, Rectal; also Intraperitoneal & Intracardiac (for animal euthanasia)
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability 70-90% oral; 90% rectal
Protein binding 20-45%
Metabolism Hepatic
Half-life 15-48 hours
Excretion Renal
CAS number 76-74-4 YesY
ATC code N05CA01 QN51AA01
PubChem CID 4737
DrugBank APRD01174
ChemSpider 4575 YesY
UNII I4744080IR YesY
KEGG D00499 YesY
Chemical data
Formula C11H18N2O3 
Mol. mass 226.27
SMILES eMolecules & PubChem
 N(what is this?)  (verify)

Pentobarbital is a short-acting barbiturate that was first synthesized in 1928. Pentobarbital is available as both a free acid and a sodium salt, the former of which is only slightly soluble in water and ethanol.[1] One brand 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).[2]




Pentobarbital's FDA-approved human uses include treatment of seizures and preoperative (and other) sedation; it is also approved as a short-term hypnotic.[3]

Unapproved / investigational / off-label

Off-label uses of pentobarbital include reduction of intracranial pressure in Reye's syndrome, traumatic brain injury and induction of coma in cerebral ischemia patients.[3] Pentobarbital-induced coma has been advocated in patients with acute liver failure refractory to mannitol.[4]

Veterinary medicine

In veterinary medicine, sodium pentobarbital is used as an anaesthetic. It is also used by itself, or in combination with complementary agents such as phenytoin, in commercial animal euthanasia injectable solutions. [5]

Human euthanasia

Pentobarbital has also been used for physician-assisted suicide.[citation needed] In the US state of Oregon "oral doses of a barbiturate" have been used for this purpose.[6]

Also in Switzerland[citation needed] and the Netherlands.[citation needed] It was also used in the Northern Territory of Australia, prior to euthanasia becoming illegal in that region.[citation needed]

Capital punishment

Pentobarbital has been approved or considered for use in executions in various U.S. states.[7]

The Danish manufacturer of pentobarbital, Lundbeck, expressed displeasure at this use of their product, and on July 1, 2011, announced they would block sales of the drug to U.S. prisons that carry out the death penalty.

Lundbeck is dedicated to saving people’s lives. Use of our products to end lives contradicts everything we are in business to do. Lundbeck is opposed to the use of its product for the purpose of capital punishment.[8]

They explained this decision with their commitment to UN human rights principles. [7]


Pentobarbital DOJ.jpg

Pentobarbital undergoes first-pass metabolism in the liver and possibly the intestines.[9]

Drug interactions

Administration of alcohol, opioids, antihistamines, other sedative-hypnotics, and other central nervous system depressants will cause possible additive effects.[3]

Recreational use

Pentobarbital is a drug that has been used recreationally.[10]


Pentobarbital is synthesized by methods analogous to that of amobarbital, the only difference being that the alkylation of α-ethylmalonic ester is carried out with 2-bromopentane (not 1-bromo-3-methylbutane) to give pentobarbital.[11][12][13]


  1. ^ "Pentobarbital Compound summary (CID4737)". Pubchem. NCBI. 
  2. ^ Fosburgh, L. C. (1997). "From this point in time: Some memories of my part in the history of anesthesia--John S. Lundy, MD". AANA journal 65 (4): 323–328. PMID 9281913.  edit
  3. ^ a b c "Pentobarbital". Monograph. AHFS / 
  4. ^ Stravitz, R. T.; Kramer, A. H.; Davern, T.; Shaikh, A. O. S.; Caldwell, S. H.; Mehta, R. L.; Blei, A. T.; Fontana, R. J. et al. (2007). "Intensive care of patients with acute liver failure: Recommendations of the U.S. Acute Liver Failure Study Group". Critical Care Medicine 35 (11): 2498–2508. doi:10.1097/01.CCM.0000287592.94554.5F. PMID 17901832.  edit
  5. ^ "International". 
  6. ^ "presciption". Death with dignity act - FAQ. Public health Oregon. 
  7. ^ a b "Detailed position (regarding the misuse of pentobarbital)". Lundbeck. 
  8. ^ "Lundbeck's position regarding the misuse of pentobarbital" (Press release). Lundbeck. July 1, 2011. 
  9. ^ Knodell, R. G.; Spector, M. H.; Brooks, D. A.; Keller, F. X.; Kyner, W. T. (1980). "Alterations in pentobarbital pharmacokinetics in response to parenteral and enteral alimentation in the rat". Gastroenterology 79 (6): 1211–1216. PMID 6777235.  edit
  10. ^ Griffiths, R. R.; Johnson, M. W. (2005). "Relative abuse liability of hypnotic drugs: A conceptual framework and algorithm for differentiating among compounds" (pdf). The Journal of clinical psychiatry 66 Suppl 9: 31–41. PMID 16336040.  edit
  11. ^ Volwiler, E. H.; Tabern, D. L. (1930). "5,5-SUBSTITUTED BARBITURIC ACIDS". Journal of the American Chemical Society 52 (4): 1676–1679. doi:10.1021/ja01367a061.  edit
  12. ^ German imperial patent, D.R.P. 293163 (1916), Bayer
  13. ^ GB patent 650354, Wilde, B. E. & Balaban, I. E., "Improvements in the manufacture of substituted barbituric and thiobarbituric acids", issued 1951-02-21, assigned to Geigy 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pentobarbital — Général No CAS …   Wikipédia en Français

  • pentobarbital — Sedante e hipnótico prescrito como sedante preoperatorio, para el tratamiento del insomnio y para el control de los trastornos convulsivos agudos. Diccionario Mosby Medicina, Enfermería y Ciencias de la Salud, Ediciones Hancourt, S.A. 1999 …   Diccionario médico

  • Pentobarbital — Strukturformel Allgemeines Freiname Pentobarbital Andere Namen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Pentobarbital — El pentobarbital es un fármaco de la familia de los barbitúricos sintetizado en 1928 que se puede encontrar en forma de ácido o de sal (la forma salina es poco soluble en agua y etanol[1] ). La marca comercial más conocida para este medicamento… …   Wikipedia Español

  • pentobarbital — noun a barbiturate (trade name Nembutal) used as a sedative and hypnotic and antispasmodic • Syn: ↑pentobarbital sodium, ↑Nembutal, ↑yellow jacket • Usage Domain: ↑trade name (for: ↑Nembutal) …   Useful english dictionary

  • pentobarbital — noun Etymology: penta + o + barbital Date: 1931 a granular barbiturate C11H18N2O3 used especially in the form of its sodium or calcium salt as a sedative, hypnotic, and antispasmodic …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • pentobarbital — An anticonvulsant and anaesthetic, usually used as the sodium or calcium salt …   Dictionary of molecular biology

  • pentobarbital — /pen teuh bahr bi tawl , tal /, n. Pharm. a barbiturate, C11H17N2O3, used as a hypnotic and as a sedative. [1930 35; PENT + O + BARBITAL] * * * …   Universalium

  • pentobarbital — noun Short acting barbiturate that is available as both a free acid and a sodium salt. Syn: nembutal, pentobarbitone …   Wiktionary

  • pentobarbital — An oral and intravenous sedative and short acting hypnotic barbiturate; largely replaced by benzodiazepines. * * * pen·to·bar·bi·tal .pent ə bär bə .tȯl n a granular barbiturate used esp. in the form of its sodium salt C11H17N2NaO3 or calcium… …   Medical dictionary

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