Barbiturates act as central nervous system depressants. Barbiturates are derivatives of a chemical called barbituric acid. Various barbiturate drugs are available in the market; however, all have sedative effect on the central nervous system and are clinically prescribed for anxiety. Barbiturates are also used in the treatment of epilepsy, insomnia, and status epilepticus. Barbiturate drugs are available in pill form and can be taken orally and intravenously. Barbiturates are subjected to the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act in the U.S. Hence, manufacture and distribution of these drugs are strictly controlled. Barbiturate drugs act by enhancing the activity of one of the primary neurotransmitters in the brain known as gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). An increase in GABA has a sedative effect on the user’s brain. The effect of barbiturate lasts between 4 hours and 16 hours, depending on the type and strength of the dose.
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Barbiturates become dangerous when combined with other depressants such as alcohol. There is a high risk of dependency from regular use of barbiturate drugs. This can be a physical dependency, psychological dependency, or both. The amount required for overdose varies from person to person. A lethal dose of barbiturate drug ranges from 2 mg to 3 mg with drugs such as amobarbital. Barbiturate drugs are addictive and highly dangerous because of the way these remain in the body. Larger doses and long term use of barbiturates produce withdrawal symptoms including hallucination, seizure, and suicidal thoughts. Overdose of barbiturates resulted in 396 deaths in the U.S. in 2010. Treatment for overdose of barbiturates includes antidote such as liquid charcoal and kidney dialysis. Barbiturate drugs can be divided into three classes depending on how long the effect of the particular barbiturate lasts: ultra-short acting barbiturate (thiopental and methohexitone), short-acting barbiturates (pentobarbitone and butobarbitone), and long acting barbiturates (phenobarbitone).
Geographically, the global barbiturate drugs market can be segmented into North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa. North America is expected to account for the largest share of the global market from 2018 to 2026, due to highest percentage of insomnia affected patients. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report (2016), nearly 70 million adults suffered from sleep disorders due to sleep deprivation in 2013 only in the U.S. Moreover, increase in health care spending and rise in prevalence of sleeping disorder fuel the growth of the market in the region. Asia Pacific excluding Japan is expected to be the second largest market for barbiturate drugs. Growth of the market in the region can be attributed to increased stress level of the working population and rapidly developing health care infrastructure.
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Key players operating in the global barbiturate drugs market are Eli Lilly and Company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Oak Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Meda pharmaceuticals, Inc., Mylan Specialty L.P., Sanofi, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd., Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, Pfizer, Inc., and Merck and Co., Inc.