Pentobarbital (Nembutal) can cause some serious health problems. This risk may be even higher for certain groups. If this worries you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about other options

Habituation Effect

Pentobarbital (Nembutal) is a controlled drug (Schedule II) because it carries a risk of abuse and dependence. Abuse occurs when a drug is taken for non-medical reasons to produce desired physical or emotional effects, such as euphoria (extreme pleasure). Dependence can develop when you take a medicine for a period of time and begin to rely on it to function normally. If you suddenly stop taking the medicine, you may experience bothersome withdrawal symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting, restlessness, sleep disturbances, anxiety, seizures, hallucinations). Your doctor will monitor your dose and reduce it slowly before stopping the medicine completely if necessary. As pentobarbital (Nembutal) is given in hospital, your doctor may check on you frequently to make sure there is little risk of the medicine becoming habit-forming.

Breathing problems

If pentobarbital (Nembutal) is given too quickly into the vein, you may have serious side effects such as low blood pressure and slowed breathing. Your doctor will calculate the correct dose and speed at which to give you pentobarbital (Nembutal). He or she will monitor you during the administration of the medicine to make sure that you do not have any serious side effects. Your doctor will help you immediately if he/she sees that you are having breathing problems during treatment with Pentobarbital (Nembutal).

Paradoxical (opposite) reactions

In certain people, pentobarbital (Nembutal) can cause paradoxical reactions (opposite effects to what you would expect). Instead of feeling sleepy or calm, this medicine can make people feel worried, excited or confused. This may happen in older adults, very weak people, or if you have short- or long-term pain. Tell your doctor if you have short- or long-term pain so that he or she can monitor you better.

Harm to the unborn child

Pentobarbital (Nembutal) may harm unborn children if given to pregnant women. Withdrawal symptoms may occur in newborn babies if the mother has received this medicine in the third trimester. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant before receiving pentobarbital (Nembutal) so that he/she can check if there are safer alternatives.

Drowsiness and slowed breathing

Risk factors: Taking pentobarbital (Nembutal) together with medicines that cause drowsiness or slowed breathing | Drinking alcohol

Pentobarbital (Nembutal) may make you sleepy. Taking pentobarbital (Nembutal) at the same time as alcohol or other medicines that can cause drowsiness, such as sedatives and opioids, may make you feel even more sleepy. In addition, combining it with alcohol or medicines that slow the body down (central nervous system depressants) can cause slowed breathing, which can be life-threatening. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking so that he or she can check them for potentially dangerous interactions.