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The barbiturates were the most widely used sedative/hypnotics from the early part of this century until the early 1970s, when flurazepam entered the US market. The agents most commonly used as hypnotics are the short- to intermediate-acting compounds such as amobarbital, pentobarbital and secobarbital, which have half-lives of 10-15 hours to 40-50 hours.  Barbiturates are depressants that produce a wide spectrum of central nervous system depression from mild sedation to coma.

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