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Created Jun 2019 | Updated Oct 2020



DEA CODE 2540: Schedule 4

Ethchlorvynol is used to treat insomnia (trouble in sleeping). It developed by Pfizer in the 1950s. In the United States it was sold by Abbott Laboratories under the tradename Placidyl. Although the exact mechanism of action is unknown, ethchlorvynol appears to depress the central nervous system in a manner similar to that of barbiturates - by means of GABA-A receptors modulation. Moderate side effects are: Skin rash or hives; dizziness or faintness; unusual excitement, nervousness, or restlessness. It is addictive and after prolonged use can cause withdrawal symptoms including convulsions, hallucinations, and memory loss.

Ethchlorvynol is only found in individuals that have used or taken this drug. It is a sedative and hypnotic drug. It has been used to treat insomnia, but has been largely superseded and is only offered where an intolerance or allergy to other drugs exists. Although the exact mechanism of action is unknown, ethchlorvynol appears to depress the central nervous system in a manner similar to that of barbiturates. This compound belongs to the class of organic compounds known as ynones.

Placidyl is a brand name version of the prescription insomnia treatment drug known as ethchlorvynol. It is in a drug class known as non-barbiturate hypnotics and comes in the form of a liquid filled capsule. Though it was once quite a popular treatment for sleeplessness, it has typically been replaced by other, newer forms of sleep aid medications. The benefits of this medication are effective but very short-term. Typically speaking, if Placidyl is used every day in order to achieve sleep, its efficacy will not continue any longer than a week.

"After years of insomnia this finally has made my body feel at ease and helped me sleep! It only took a short time to get me to sleep but make sure you take it early enough at night because it does make you feel drowsy the next day if you have to get up too early. "

"placidyl is the most effective sleep medication I ever had (when I am desperate for sleep)."

"Often abused, but one of the most effective sleep medications ever made. Not for everyday use, as it loses its effectiveness, Took once or twice a week when I had shift changes on my job. 12-8....8-4....4-12. I was asleep within 15 min."


Sedative Hypnotic medication made in the 50's. It was used for short term help for insomnia (No longer than two weeks)

RouteOnsetDurationAfter Effects
Tripsit Factsheets
All ROAs:15-45 minutes6-9 hours1-6 hours
Ethchlorvynol Duration
All CNS depressants.

Precautions while using ethchlorvynol:
Ethchlorvynol will add to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (medicines that cause drowsiness). Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for hay fever, other allergies, or colds; sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine; prescription pain medicine or narcotics; barbiturates; medicine for seizures; muscle relaxants; or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of the above while you are taking ethchlorvynol.

If you think you or someone else may have taken an overdose of ethchlorvynol, get emergency help at once. Taking an overdose of ethchlorvynol or taking alcohol or other CNS depressants with ethchlorvynol may lead to unconsciousness and possibly death. Some signs of an overdose are continuing confusion, severe weakness, shortness of breath or slow or troubled breathing, slurred speech, staggering, and slow heartbeat.

Ethchlorvynol may cause some people to become dizzy, lightheaded, drowsy, or less alert than they are normally. Even if taken at bedtime, it may cause some people to feel drowsy or less alert on arising. Make sure you know how you react to ethchlorvynol before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or are not alert.


Drug Interactions (175) Alcohol/Food Interactions (1) Disease Interactions (8)

What other drugs will affect Ethchlorvynol?

A total of 175 drugs are known to interact with Ethchlorvynol.

  • 24 major drug interactions
  • 149 moderate drug interactions
  • 2 minor drug interactions

Studies on this medicine have been done only in adult patients and there is no specific information comparing use of ethchlorvynol in children with use in other age groups.

Elderly people may be especially sensitive to the effects of ethchlorvynol.

This may increase the chance of side effects during treatment.

Other Interactions:

  • Ethanol

Other Medical Problems:
Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Alcohol abuse (or history of)
  • Drug abuse or dependence (or history of) - Dependence on ethchlorvynol may develop
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease - Higher blood levels of ethchlorvynol may result and increase the chance of side effects
  • Mental depression
  • Porphyria - Ethchlorvynol may make the condition worse

It is reported that Elvis was found with ten times the standard amount of codeine in his body. He was also reportedly addicted to a variety of substances, such as diazepam, methaqualone, phenobarbital, ethchlorvynol and ethinamate. The toxicology report concluded, at the time, that 'the strong possibility is that these drugs were the major contribution to his demise'. But modern medical advancements now suggest that his underlying heart problems were exacerbated by the heady concoction of drugs found in his system - but they were not a direct cause.

Ethchlorvynol was used to treat insomnia, but prescriptions for the drug had fallen significantly by 1990, as other hypnotics that were considered safer (i.e., less dangerous in overdose) became much more common. During the late 1970s, ethchlorvynol was sometimes over-prescribed causing a minor epidemic of persons who quickly became addicted to this powerful drug. Elvis Presley was quite fond of Placidyl, Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist had to be hospitalized for detox of Placidyl, as was Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. Occasional deaths would occur when addicted persons would try to inject the drug directly into a vein or an artery. Ethchlorvynol is not compatible with intravenous injection and serious injury (including the loss of limbs due to vascular injury) or death can occur when it is used in this manner.

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