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The sterile form of this veterinary barbiturate (fig 11.5) 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 - see Ch 12.
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.