Also Known As: Pentobarbital, Nembutal
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. 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 saltâ€”Na (sodium) + ethyl + methyl + butyl + al (common suffix for barbiturates).
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. Pentobarbital-induced coma has been advocated in patients with acute liver failure refractory to mannitol.