Withdrawal of barbiturate anticonvulsant drugs: prospective controlled study

Am J Ment Retard. 1988 Nov;93(3):320-7.


A barbiturate (phenobarbital or primidone) was withdrawn over a period of 3 months from 25 institutionalized residents, all of whom had had three seizures or less in the past 6 months and were maintained on a nonsedating drug (phenytoin, carbamazepine, or valproic acid). Results were compared with a matched comparison group maintained on both drugs. Subjects withdrawn from primidone, but not those withdrawn from phenobarbital, had increased seizure frequency, probably due to withdrawal. After 14 months, seizure-free subjects withdrawn from barbiturates were no more likely to have had seizures than were comparison subjects. Barbiturates appear to be unnecessary and may be withdrawn.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Epilepsies, Partial / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy, Absence / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy, Tonic-Clonic / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenobarbital / adverse effects*
  • Phenobarbital / therapeutic use
  • Primidone / adverse effects*
  • Primidone / therapeutic use
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / etiology*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Primidone
  • Phenobarbital