What is Fioricet ?

Fioricet and Esgic are brand names of a combination of butalbital (a barbiturate), acetaminophen and caffeine which is indicated for the treatment of tension headaches,muscle contraction headaches and post-dural puncture headaches. Although not indicated, they are commonly used to treat migraines and other pain related ailments.


This combination medication is used to treat tension headaches. Acetaminophen helps to decrease the pain from the headache. Caffeinehelps increase the effects of acetaminophen. Butalbital is a sedative that helps to decrease anxiety and cause sleepiness and relaxation.

Fioricet is indicated for the treatment of muscle tension or muscle contraction headaches. It is also commonly prescribed for migraines although it is not FDA indicated for this use in the United States. The usual adult dose is 1-2 tablets every four hours as needed, not exceeding six tablets in a 24-hour period

Mechanism of action

fioricetnoprescriptionButalbital has generalized depressant effect on central nervous system and, in very high doses, has peripheral effects. Acetaminophen has analgesic and antipyretic effects mediated by a metabolite which acts atcannabinoid receptors, contrary to popular belief it is not an antiinflammatory at safe levels (it becomes toxic at doses above 1,000mg per dose and/or 3,000mg per day). Caffeine is thought to produce constriction of cerebral blood vessels and serves to counteract the sedative effect of butalbital.

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 5 to 7 hours.