Barbiturates are medications used to control seizures, to induce or supplement anesthesia, to treat insomnia, for sedation, and to relieve anxiety. They are also frequently abused. Depending on the drug, barbiturates are Schedule II to Schedule IV.


Brand/Generic Drug Names

Amytal/amobarbital, Nembutal/pentobarbital, Luminal/phenobarbital, Seconal/secobarbital, Mysoline/primidone, Pentothal/thiopental , Brevital/methohexital
Common uses
epilepsy, febrile seizures in children, sedation, insomnia, hyperbilirubinemia, chronic cholestasis, anesthesia
decrease impulse transmission to the cerebral cortex increasing seizure threshold, depress the central nervous system, enhance response to GABA
Class contraindications
allergy, pregnancy, porphyria, severe liver impairment
Class precautions
elderly, debilitated, renal and hepatic disease, children (excitability)
Increased central nervous system depression: alcohol, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, sedatives, narcotics Decreased effect: oral anticoagulants, corticosteroids, griseofulvin, quinidine, oral contraceptives, theophylline
Adverse Reactions
drowsiness, nausea, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, blood dyscrasias
Additional Information
Assess hepatic, renal, blood studies
Assess for barbiturate toxicity
Evaluate therapeutic response: appropriate sedation or seizure control
Date of most recent Update
September 04, 2002
Further information is available in the writeup for the specific name(s) of this medication class