Until about 8 years ago barbiturates were the most commonly prescribed group of sedative drugs, given either at night as a hypnotic or during the day for the relief of anxiety. It is now clear that they have serious drawbacks and they are under attack from many quarters such as the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and the Department of Health. The Campaign on the Use and Restriction of Barbiturates (CURB) is supported by the Department and its initial aim is to reduce the prescribing of barbiturates as hypnotics and sedatives. Why have barbiturates fallen out of favour? To answer this they must be compared with newer sedatives and hypnotics.
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