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Butabarbital (By mouth)

Butabarbital (bue-ta-BAR-bi-tal)

Treats insomnia (difficulty falling asleep). Also used to make you feel sleepy before surgery or a procedure. This medicine is a barbiturate.

Brand Name(s):

Butisol Sodium

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to butabarbital or to other barbiturates. You should not use this medicine if you are pregnant, or if you have porphyria.

How to Use This Medicine:

Tablet, Liquid

  • Take your medicine as directed.
  • Measure the oral liquid medicine with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup.
  • This medicine is not for long-term use.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Ask your pharmacist for a copy if you do not have one.
  • If you are taking this medicine for insomnia, it is best to take it at bedtime or when you are having trouble falling asleep.

If a dose is missed:

  • Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are using medicine to treat infection (such as griseofulvin, doxycycline, Gris-Peg®, Vibramycin®, or Vibra-Tabs®), steroid medicine (such as dexamethasone, prednisolone, prednisone, or Medrol®), a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®), or medicine to treat seizures (such as phenytoin, sodium valproate, valproic acid, Dilantin®, or Depakene®). Tell your doctor if you are also using a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor (such as Eldepryl®, Marplan®, Nardil®, or Parnate®), or hormone medicines (such as estradiol, estrone, or progesterone).
  • Birth control pills may not work as well while using this medicine. To keep from getting pregnant, use an additional form of birth control with your pills.
  • Tell your doctor if you drink alcohol or if you are using any medicine that makes you sleepy, such as allergy medicine or narcotic pain medicine.
  • Do not drink alcohol while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • It is not safe to take this medicine during pregnancy. It could harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, liver disease, or severe pain in any part of your body. Also tell your doctor if you have severe depression, a history of drug addiction, or have ever had thoughts of suicide.
  • Some brands of butabarbital contain a yellow dye called tartrazine. Tartrazine may cause severe allergic reactions. Tell your doctor if you have any allergies.
  • This medicine may cause a serious type of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Stop taking this medicine and call your doctor right away if you have itching, hives, trouble breathing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth when you take this medicine.
  • This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Avoid driving, using machines, or doing anything else that could be dangerous if you are not alert. This medicine may also cause sleep-related behaviors such as sleep-driving, making phone calls, or preparing and eating food while asleep or not fully awake. If these reactions occur, tell your doctor right away.
  • Do not use this medicine to treat insomnia and other sleeping problems without checking with your doctor first. If you still have trouble sleeping after 7 to 10 days of using this medicine, check with your doctor.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.
  • This medicine can be habit-forming. Do not use more than your prescribed dose. Call your doctor if you think your medicine is not working.
  • Do not stop using this medicine suddenly. Your doctor will need to slowly decrease your dose before you stop it completely.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Abnormal behavior or problems with speech.
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash.
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools.
  • Lightheadedness or fainting.
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or pain in your upper stomach.
  • Severe confusion, drowsiness, or muscle weakness.
  • Shortness of breath or bluish-colored skin.
  • Slow heartbeat.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Confusion, nervousness, trouble sleeping, or unusual dreams.
  • Fever or headache.
  • Hallucinations (seeing things that are not really there).
  • Mild nausea or constipation.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088


Last Updated: 10/4/2014


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