Phenobarbital is a long-acting barbiturate that acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Labeled indications include control of epilepsy (seizures disorders) and as a sedative/hypnotic medication for short-term treatment of insomnia.
As an antiepileptic drug (AED), it can be used as monotherapy in the treatment of generalized (tonic-clonic), simple, or partial complex seizures; for myoclonic epilepsy; and for neonatal and febrile seizures in children. It has also been prescribed for eclamptic seizures during pregnancy.
Phenobarbital is one of the oldest AEDs still in use. It was introduced in 1912 as Phenobarbital under the trade name Luminal. It was also used as a sedative-hypnotic for insomnia.
For many years, it was considered to be a first-line medication for patients with epilepsy. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, new AEDs were released (felbamate, gabapetin, lamotrigine, topiramate, and tiagamine) and...