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Amobarbital/secobarbital (By mouth)

Amobarbital (am-oh-BAR-bi-tal), Secobarbital (see-koe-BAR-bi-tal)

Treats insomnia and also makes you sleepy before surgery or a procedure. This medicine is a barbiturate.

Brand Name(s):

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 amobarbital, secobarbital, or other barbiturates. You should not use this medicine if you are pregnant, or if you have porphyria, liver disease, or lung disease.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Take your medicine as directed. Your dose may need to be changed several times to find what works best for you.
  • This medicine is not for long-term use.
  • Take this medicine at bedtime, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

If a dose is missed:

  • You must use this medicine on a fixed schedule. Call your doctor or pharmacist if you miss a 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  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.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 blood thinners such as acenocoumarol, dicumarol, phenprocoumon, or warfarin (Coumadin®). Tell your doctor if you are using steroids (such as dexamethasone, prednisone, prednisolone, or Medrol®). Your doctor should know if you are also using medicine for seizures such as phenytoin (Dilantin®), sodium valproate, or valproic acid.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are using griseofulvin, or doxycycline.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are using MAO inhibitor such as Eldepryl®, Marplan®, Nardil®, or Parnate®. Tell your doctor if you are also using hormones such as estradiol, estrone, or progesterone or other similar medicines.
  • Birth control pills may not work as well while you are using this medicine. To keep from getting pregnant, use another form of birth control such as condoms, a diaphragm, or contraceptive foam or jelly.
  • Tell your doctor if you use anything else that makes you sleepy. Some examples are allergy medicine, narcotic pain medicine, and alcohol.
  • 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 breast feeding.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you have kidney disease, liver disease, or severe pain in any part of your body, depression, drug abuse, or any suicide attempts.
  • Tell your doctor if you have any history of mental illness.
  • 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.
  • This medicine may make you drowsy. Avoid driving, using machines, or doing anything else that could be dangerous if you are not alert.
  • Your doctor will check your progress and the effects of this medicine at regular visits. Keep all appointments.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.

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
  • Depression, confusion, hallucinations, or unusual behavior.
  • Feeling very excited or agitated.
  • Lightheadedness or fainting.
  • Muscle twitching or problems with balance or walking.
  • Pale skin or pale lip color.
  • Severe nausea or vomiting.
  • Slow heartbeat.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Thoughts of doing harm to yourself.

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

  • Constipation, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Headache or mild fever.
  • Mild skin rash, redness, or itching.
  • Nervousness, restlessness, trouble sleeping, or abnormal dreams.

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: 5/1/2020

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