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Available Forms of Nembutal

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Available Forms of Nembutal

For human use, Nembutal was extensively marketed as sleeping tablets or capsules in the 1950s & 1960s. Even though Nembutal disappeared off the market over a decade ago, many people have old stocks which are still potent. One hundred of these capsules (100 x 100mg = 10gm of barbiturate) is a lethal dose.

Barbiturates are also well absorbed rectally and some countries have marketed forms of suppositories. ‘Nova Rectal’ in Canada is one such example. Sterile ampoules of injectable Nembutal for intramuscular and intravenous administration as a hypnotic, anti-convulsant and pre-operative sedative still find a small place in medicine in some countries including the US.

The veterinary forms of the drug are also still used in either the sterile injectable form for anaesthesia, or a non-sterile form (Valabarb or Lethabarb) for animal euthanasia.

The sterile form of this veterinary barbiturate is marketed in small, sealed 100ml bottles that are protected with a metal seal. This metal cap makes tampering obvious.
The Nembutal inside is a clear liquid with concentration of 60 mg/ml. Each 100ml bottle has a total of 6 gm of Nembutal - enough to provide a peaceful death.

Non-sterile Nembutal liquid ('Lethabarb' , Fig 11.6) is used for animal euthanasia, is colour dyed for safety, and has a much higher concentration of barbiturate (300mg/ml). 30ml taken orally is lethal.
Since 2010, the powdered form of the drug (sodium pentobarbital) has become increasingly available as an assay grade laboratory reagent. For details of this useful form of the drug.

Pentobarb & Phenobarb - Confusing Names

Nembutal is the commercial or trade name for the barbiturate whose chemical name is pentobarbital (‘pent-o-barb-it-al’). This drug is different to another barbiturate called phenobarbital.

Phenobarbital is a slow-acting drug, used predominantly as an anti-convulsant to stabilise people suffering from epilepsy.
While phenobarb can be lethal in overdose, it has a much slower action than Nembutal and is not an ideal method for self-deliverance. These two barbiturates should not be confused.