Barbiturate

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Barbiturates are drugs that act as central nervous system depressants, and, by virtue of this, they produce a wide spectrum of effects, from mild sedation to total anesthesia. They are also effective as anxiolytics, as hypnotics, and as anticonvulsants. They have addiction potential, both physical and psychological. Barbiturates have now largely been replaced by benzodiazepines in routine medical practice - for example, in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia – mainly because benzodiazepines are significantly less dangerous in overdose. However, barbiturates are still used in general anesthesia, as well as for epilepsy. Barbiturates are derivatives of barbituric acid.

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History

Barbituric acid was first synthesized December 6, 1864, by German researcher Adolf von Baeyer. This was done by condensing urea (an animal waste product) with diethyl malonate (an ester derived from the acid of apples). There are several stories about how the substance got its name. The most likely story is that Von Baeyer and his colleagues went to celebrate their discovery in a tavern where the town's artillery garrison were also celebrating the feast of Saint Barbara — the patron saint of artillerists. An artillery officer is said to have christened the new substance by amalgamating Barbara with urea.[1] No substance of medical value was discovered, however, until 1903 when two German scientists working at Bayer, Emil Fischer and Joseph von Mering, discovered that barbital was very effective in putting dogs to sleep. Barbital was then marketed by Bayer under the trade name Veronal. It is said that Von Mering proposed this name because the most peaceful place he knew was the Italian city of Verona.[1] It was not until the 1950s that the behavioural disturbances and physical dependence potential of barbiturates became recognized.[2]

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