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Pentobarbital overdose

Pentobarbital is a sedative, which is a medicine that makes you sleepy. Pentobarbital overdose occurs when a person intentionally or accidentally takes too much of the medicine.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or a local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Poisonous Ingredient


Where Found

Pentobarbital is the generic name for the following medicines:

  • Nembutal
  • Pentosol
  • Repocal
  • Sopental


Symptoms of a pentobarbital overdose may include:

Home Care

Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.

Before Calling Emergency

Get the following information:

  • The person's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of product (as well as the ingredients and strength, if known)
  • The time it was swallowed
  • The amount swallowed
  • If the medicine was prescribed for the person

However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.

Poison Control

In the United States, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak with a local poison control center. This hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

The health care provider will measure and monitor vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Airway support, including oxygen, breathing tube through the mouth (intubation), and breathing machine (ventilator)
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
  • Fluids through a vein (IV)
  • Laxative
  • Medicines to treat symptoms

People who still have symptoms after 6 hours of treatment may need to be admitted to the hospital.

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well the person does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment was received. With proper treatment, people can recover in 1 to 5 days. If the person was in a coma or in shock long-term (causing damage to many internal organs), a more serious outcome is possible.

Alternative Names

Nembutal overdose; Pentosol overdose; Sopental overdose; Repocal overdose


Goldfrank LR, ed. Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2006.

Gussow L, Carlson A. Sedative hypnotics. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 165.

Update Date 1/16/2015