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pentobarbital (cont.)

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using pentobarbital (Nembutal Sodium)?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to pentobarbital, or if you have porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system).

If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use this medication:

  • liver disease;
  • kidney disease;
  • chronic pain;
  • severe or uncontrolled asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder);
  • a history of depression, mental illness, or suicide attempt; or
  • a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

Pentobarbital may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Pentobarbital should never be shared with another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

FDA pregnancy category D. Do not use pentobarbital without telling your doctor if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Pentobarbital may cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms in a newborn if the mother uses the medication during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Pentobarbital can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using a non-hormone method of birth control (such as a condom, diaphragm, spermicide) to prevent pregnancy while using pentobarbital.

Pentobarbital can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Older adults may be more likely to have side effects from this medication.

How should I take pentobarbital (Nembutal Sodium)?

Pentobarbital is given as an injection into a muscle or vein. Your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider will give you this injection. You may be shown how to inject your medicine at home. Do not self-inject this medicine if you do not fully understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of needles, IV tubing, and other items used in giving the medicine.

When injected into a vein, pentobarbital must be given slowly.

Use each disposable needle only one time. Throw away used needles in a puncture-proof container (ask your pharmacist where you can get one and how to dispose of it). Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.

Do not stop using pentobarbital suddenly after using it long-term, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor about how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when you stop using pentobarbital.

To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your blood may need to be tested on a regular basis. Your kidney or liver function may also need to be tested. Do not miss any follow-up visits to your doctor.

If you store pentobarbital at home, keep it at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Keep track of how much of this medicine has been used. Pentobarbital is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if any person in the household is using this medicine improperly or without a prescription.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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