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Discontinued Warning IconPlease Note: This Brand Name drug is no longer available in the US.
(Generic versions may still be available.)



Pentothal (thiopental sodium)

Overdosage may occur from too rapid or repeated injections. Too rapid injection may be followed by an alarming fall in blood pressure even to shock levels. Apnea, occasional laryngospasm, coughing and other respiratory difficulties with excessive or too rapid injections may occur. In the event of suspected or apparent overdosage, the drug should be discontinued, a patent airway established (intubate if necessary) or maintained, and oxygen should be administered, with assisted ventilation if necessary. The lethal dose of barbiturates varies and cannot be stated with certainty. Lethal blood levels may be as low as 1 mg/100 mL for short-acting barbiturates; less if other depressant drugs or alcohol are also present.


It is generally agreed that respiratory depression or arrest due to unusual sensitivity to thiopental sodium or overdosage is easily managed if there is no concomitant respiratory obstruction. If the airway is patent, any method of ventilating the lungs (that prevents hypoxia) should be successful in maintaining other vital functions. Since depression of respiratory activity is one of the characteristic actions of the drug, it is important to observe respiration closely.

Should laryngeal spasm occur, it may be relieved by one of the usual methods, such as the use of a relaxant drug or positive pressure oxygen. Endotracheal intubation may be indicated in difficult cases.

Diluents in Pentothal (thiopental sodium) ® Kits

Ready-To-Mix Syringes and Vials
(For preparing solutions of Thiopental Sodium for Injection, USP)

Used as diluents for preparing solutions of Pentothal (Thiopental Sodium for Injection, USP) the small volumes of administered fluid (from Sterile Water for Injection in bottles and vials) and amounts of sodium chloride (from 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection in Ready-to-Mix Syringes) are unlikely to pose a threat of fluid or sodium chloride overload.


Absolute Contraindications

  • Absence of suitable veins for intravenous administration,
  • hypersensitivity (allergy) to barbiturates and
  • variegate porphyria (South African) or acute intermittent porphyria.

Relative Contraindications

Diluents in Pentothal (thiopental sodium) ® Kits

Ready-To-Mix Syringes and Vials
(For preparing solutions of Thiopental Sodium for Injection, USP)

Do not use unless the diluent is clear and the bottle or vial seal or syringe package is undamaged.

Diluents in Pentothal (thiopental sodium) Kits, Ready-to-Mix Syringes or Vials should not be used for fluid or sodium chloride replacement.

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 12/8/2004


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