Pentobarbital, also known as pentobarbitone, is a short-acting barbiturate. In high doses, pentobarbital causes death by respiratory arrest. In the United States, the drug has been used for executions of convicted criminals. Lundbeck (one of many manufacturers) does not permit its sale to prisons or corrections departments to carry out the death penalty. Abbott Pharmaceuticals’ brand of pentobarbital, Nembutal, which was available in 50 and 100 mg yellow capsules, was discontinued in 1999. Prescribed for insomnia, it has been largely replaced by the benzodiazepine family of drugs. Nembutal was widely abused and known on the streets as “yellow jackets” due to their yellow capsule. Pentobarbital in pill form is no longer available.
Typical applications for pentobarbital are sedative, hypnotic for short term, preanesthetic, insomnia, and control of convulsions in emergencies. Abbott Pharmaceutical discontinued manufacture of their Nembutal brand of Pentobarbital capsules in 1999, largely replaced by the Benzodiazepine family of drugs. Pentobarbital was also widely abused, known on the streets as “yellow jackets”. They were available in 50 and 100 mg. yellow capsules. Pentobarbital in pill form is no longer manufactured.
It is also used as a veterinary anesthetic agent.
Pentobarbital also has an application in reducing intracranial pressure in Reye’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury and induction of coma in cerebral ischemia patients. Pentobarbital-induced coma has been advocated in patients with acute liver failure refractory to mannitol.