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Drug Profile

Do NOT stop taking this or any drug without the advice of your physician. Some drugs can cause severe adverse effects when they are stopped suddenly.

Do Not Use [what does this mean?]
Generic drug name: meprobamate (me PROE be mate)
Brand name(s): EQUANIL, MILTOWN
GENERIC: not available FAMILY: Other Sleeping Pills and Tranquilizers
Find the drug label by searching at DailyMed.

Alternative Treatment [top]

See nondrug approaches in Sleeping Pills and Tranquilizers, oxazepam, and buspirone.

Pregnancy and Breast-feeding Warnings [top]

Pregnancy Warning

An increased risk of congenital malformations associated with the use of minor tranquilizers (diazepam, meprobamate, and chlordiazepoxide) during the first trimester of pregnancy has been suggested in several studies. Because use of these drugs is rarely a matter of urgency, their use during this period should almost always be avoided. The possibility that a woman of childbearing potential may be pregnant at the time of institution of therapy should be considered. Patients should be advised that if they become pregnant during therapy or intend to become pregnant, they should communicate with their physicians about the desirability of discontinuing the drug.

Safety Warnings For This Drug [top]

If you are currently taking zolpidem and develop complex sleep behaviors, discontinue the drug immediately and seek medical help.

Otherwise, if you have been taking zolpidem for awhile, do not stop taking this drug suddenly because it may cause drug-induced dependence. Instead, work with your doctor to create a schedule to stop it gradually to avoid withdrawal reactions (including stomach cramps, vomiting, nervousness and panic attacks).

Facts About This Drug [top]

Meprobamate (EQUANIL, MILTOWN) is a tranquilizer. It is commonly misused to relieve occasional, short-term anxiety. Persons suffering anxiety and tension from the stress of everyday life usually do not need an antianxiety drug. There are safer ways to relieve such anxiety. If you do need a drug for anxiety, buspirone (BUSPAR) is a better choice than meprobamate.

Meprobamate has been included on a list of drugs that are inappropriate for use in older adults.[1],[2]

Side effects
Prescrire I...

Meprobamate (EQUANIL, MILTOWN) is a tranquilizer. It is commonly misused to relieve occasional, short-term anxiety. Persons suffering anxiety and tension from the stress of everyday life usually do not need an antianxiety drug. There are safer ways to relieve such anxiety. If you do need a drug for anxiety, buspirone (BUSPAR) is a better choice than meprobamate.

Meprobamate has been included on a list of drugs that are inappropriate for use in older adults.[1],[2]

Side effects
Prescrire International published an article discussing the role of meprobamate in drug therapy and the indications for the drug’s use. The article stated that meprobamate and meprobamate-containing drug products have a risk of severe side effects. The authors found that the drug did not have an appropriate role or indication of use in drug treatment, and that safer drug options were available.[3]

Long-term treatment (longer than four months) of anxiety with meprobamate is rarely effective. It also puts patients at risk of developing harmful adverse effects such as drowsiness, dizziness and unsteady gait — with an increased risk of falls and hip fractures, memory loss and addiction.

A March 2014 study in the United Kingdom found an increase in the risk of death in people using tranquilizers or sleeping pills compared with people not using them. The results were similar to those from a 2012 study. Concerns about the effect of these drugs on premature mortality have been fueled by studies documenting increased risk of dementia, daytime fatigue, lack of coordination, falls, road traffic incidents, pneumonia and other infections.[4]

Regulatory actions surrounding meprobamate:
2008: In February, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in the U.K. announced that meprobamate has a similar risk of serious side effects as carisoprodol (SOMA). Based on the risk of these side effects and the benefits of using the drug, the MHRA is exploring a phased withdrawal of meprobamate-containing products from the U.K. market. The agency will inform the public as further information becomes available.[5]

2012: In January, the European Medicines Agency announced that it had completed a safety review of oral meprobamate and had found that the drug is associated with serious side effects. Based on a review of the risk of these side effects and the benefits of using the drug, the agency has recommended the suspension of the marketing of oral medications containing meprobamate in the European Union.[6]

last reviewed January 31, 2021