Secobarbital

Year(s) and type of review / ECDD meetings
Drug Class
ECDD Recommendation
Rescheduled from Schedule III to Schedule II of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances
Recommendation (from TRS)
ECDD Technical summary
A notification (NAR/CL.9/ 1986, DND 411/1(2)) from the Government of the United States of America concerning the rescheduling of secobarbital has been transmitted to the Director- General of the World Health Organization pursuant to Article 2, Paragraph 2 of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971. Secobarbital is an intermediate-acting sedative—hypnotic barbiturate with a high potential for abuse and a high level of actual abuse with demonstrated adverse effects.on public health and social well-being. The substance is currently controlled under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971, in Schedule III along with cyclobarbital, pentobarbital and amobarbital, three other intermediate-acting sedative-hypnotic barbiturates. Since the original scheduling, the therapeutic usefulness of these drugs has declined remarkably and they have been replaced by more effective drugs. The Committee regards the current therapeutic usefulness of these drugs as low. Recent information from the Secretary-General of the United Nations and INTERPOL on the international illicit traffic of secobarbital indicates that there has been an increasing problem in several countries with the substance as compared to the other controlled barbiturates. [Please refer to TRS report for information on seizures]. The problem is particularly acute in Africa and the eastern Mediterranean and south-east Asia. Also the United States of America reports a large illicit traffic in secobarbital being sold as methaqualone.

Recommendation
There is good evidence from controlled studies in animals and human subjects that secobarbital produces both physical and psychological dependence of a severe nature. There is evidence for a high incidence of actual abuse with attendant public health and social problems. The therapeutic usefulness of the drug is low. There is evidence of a high and increasing illicit traffic with secobarbital as compared with other barbiturates already controlled in Schedule III of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971. Thus, the Committee recommends that secobarbital be moved from Schedule III to Schedule II of the Convention. The additional control measures associated with this change should permit a more effective control of the illicit traffic in secobarbital.