Gamma-hydroxybutyrate overdose and physostigmine: teaching new tricks to an old drug?

Ann Emerg Med. 2001 Jan;37(1):99-102. doi: 10.1067/mem.2001.111642.


Gamma-hydroxybutyrate was introduced as an anesthetic agent in the 1960s and is still used in some countries, despite recognized disadvantages. More recently, it has emerged as a popular recreational drug. We report 3 cases of gamma-hydroxybutyrate overdose, the effects of which were reversed by the administration of low-dose intravenous physostigmine. The origins of this regimen and the case for physostigmine as a potential antidote are described.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidotes / therapeutic use*
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Overdose / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physostigmine / therapeutic use*
  • Sodium Oxybate / poisoning*


  • Antidotes
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Sodium Oxybate
  • Physostigmine