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Drugs That Contain Barbiturates

By Christine Adamec

Some combination medications contain barbiturates, which are sedating drugs that are controlled by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration because of their potential for abuse and addiction. In her book, "The Encyclopedia of Drug Abuse," psychiatrist Esther Gwinnell says that individuals who are addicted to barbiturates are usually tapered off the drug.


Fiorcet is a combination drug containing butalbital--a barbiturate--as well as acetaminophen and caffeine. This medication is sometimes used by people suffering from chronic headaches; however, according to writer Stephanie Stephens in her article for "Neurology Now," studies show that the more frequently this drug is taken, the greater the risk for more headaches. This is also a phenomenon referred to as the rebound headache. Therefore, if Fiorcet is used, it should be taken sparingly and with caution.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information of the National Institutes of Health, Fiorcet should be taken with food or milk because it can cause an upset stomach. Individuals who experience skin rash or difficulty breathing should contact their doctors right away because they may be experiencing an allergic reaction.


Fiornal is similar to Fiorcet and is a combination of butalbital with caffeine and with aspirin--instead of the acetaminophen used in Fiorcet. Fiornal can also lead to the development of rebound headaches if the drug is taken frequently. Fiorcet should be taken with caution when first used and the individual should not drive until the drug's effects are known.


Donnatol is the trade name for an antispasmodic drug that includes phenobarbital, hyoscyamine sulfate, atropine sulfate and scopolamine hydrobromide. This drug is sometimes used to treat severe diarrhea as well as chronic cases of irritable bowel syndrome.

According to the Physicians Desk Reference website, PDRHealth, the phenobarbital in Donnatol can be habit-forming and anyone who has ever been addicted to drugs should not take this medication. The drug may also cause sedation and as with other barbiturates, individuals taking it should not drive until they know the effects that the drug has on them.

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