British Approved Name
A British Approved Name is the official non-proprietary or generic name given to a pharmaceutical substance, as defined in the British Pharmacopoeia...
) is a barbiturate
Barbiturates are drugs that act as central nervous system depressants, and can therefore produce a wide spectrum of effects, from mild sedation to total anesthesia. They are also effective as anxiolytics, as hypnotics, and as anticonvulsants...
, first marketed as Luminal by Friedr. Bayer et comp
Bayer AG is a chemical and pharmaceutical company founded in Barmen , Germany in 1863. It is headquartered in Leverkusen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany and well known for its original brand of aspirin.-History:...
. It is the most widely used anticonvulsant
The anticonvulsants are a diverse group of pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of epileptic seizures. Anticonvulsants are also increasingly being used in the treatment of bipolar disorder, since many seem to act as mood stabilizers, and in the treatment of neuropathic pain. The goal of an...
worldwide, and the oldest still commonly used. It also has sedative
A sedative or tranquilizer is a substance that induces sedation by reducing irritability or excitement....
Hypnotic drugs are a class of psychoactives whose primary function is to induce sleep and to be used in the treatment of insomnia and in surgical anesthesia...
properties but, as with other barbiturates, has been superseded by the benzodiazepine
A benzodiazepine is a psychoactive drug whose core chemical structure is the fusion of a benzene ring and a diazepine ring...
s for these indications. The World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...
recommends its use as first-line for partial and generalized tonic–clonic seizure
An epileptic seizure, occasionally referred to as a fit, is defined as a transient symptom of "abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain". The outward effect can be as dramatic as a wild thrashing movement or as mild as a brief loss of awareness...
s (those formerly known as grand mal) in developing countries
A developing country, also known as a less-developed country, is a nation with a low level of material well-being. Since no single definition of the term developing country is recognized internationally, the levels of development may vary widely within so-called developing countries...