Old tranquilizer being phased out

Former best-selling minor tranquilizer has largely been replaced by benzodiazepines.

February 3, 2012 02:15

Pills 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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The Health Ministry has adopted the policy of the European Medicines Agency by gradually halting the marketing of the tranquilizer/sleeping pill known to generations of Americans and others as Milltown.

Its generic name is meprobamate, and there are numerous commercial names for it.

The medication is a carbamate derivative and was the best-selling minor tranquilizer for a time, but has largely been replaced by the benzodiazepines.

It was developed in the early ’50s and became the first blockbuster tranquilizing drug in the US. It was later synthesized and called meprobamate to overcome shortcomings, including the short period that it has an effect.

The European Medicines Agency said that the drug, which is also used as a sleeping pill, should no longer be used because it caused confusion and unconsciousness (especially in the elderly) in some patients abroad and may be addictive. It is made in Israel by Rekah Pharmaceutical Industry Ltd and not widely used here, as there are better pills for its purposes.

The ministry announced on Thursday night that it would phase out its use over a period of 15 months. No such step has yet been taken in the US.

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