Fioricet and Esgic are brand name drugs made from a combination of butalbital (a barbiturate, 50 mg), acetaminophen (325 mg), and caffeine (40 mg). They are indicated for the treatment of tension headaches and muscle contraction headaches. Although not indicated, they are commonly used to treat migraines and other pain related ailments. Note that Fioricet (and some other pain medications) are implicated as causing repeat headaches with over-use (see NYT citation below)
Fioricet is indicated for the treatment of complex and muscle contraction headaches. It is also commonly prescribed for migraines although it is not FDA indicated for this use. The usual adult dose is 1-2 tablets every four hours as needed, not exceeding six tablets in a 24 hour period.
Butalbital has generalized depressant effect on central nervous system and, in very high doses, has peripheral effects. Acetaminophen has analgesic and antipyretic effects; its analgesic effects may be mediated through inhibition of prostaglandin synthetase enzyme complex. Caffeine is thought to produce constriction of cerebral blood vessels.
Butalbital has a half-life of about 35 hours. Acetaminophen has a half-life of about 1.25 to 3 hours, but may be increased by liver damage and after an overdose. Caffeine has a half-life of about 3 hours.
Side effects for any drug are difficult to predict, but commonly reported side effects for Fioricet include: