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CAS Number
PubChem CID
E number{{#property:P628}}
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Chemical and physical data
Molar mass418.284 g/mol

Bretazenil is an anxiolytic drug which is derived from the benzodiazepine family, and was invented in 1988. It is most closely related in structure to the benzodiazepine antagonist flumazenil, although its effects are somewhat different.

Bretazenil was originally developed as an anti-anxiety drug, but never commercialised. It is a partial agonist for GABAA receptors in the brain. David Nutt from the University of Bristol has suggested bretazenil as a possible base from which to make a better social drug, as it displays several of the positive effects of alcohol intoxication such as relaxation and sociability, but without the bad effects such as aggression, amnesia, nausea, loss of coordination, liver disease and brain damage. The effects of bretazenil can also be quickly reversed by the action of flumazenil, which is used as an antidote to benzodiazepine overdose,[1] in contrast to alcohol for which there is no effective and reliable antidote.

However, while less addictive than benzodiazepine full agonists such as diazepam[2], long-term use of bretazenil would still be expected to result in dependence and addiction. Bretazenil, were it to be made commercially available, would thus most likely be classed as a controlled substance, e.g. Schedule III or Schedule IV in the USA, and so is unlikely to ever be commercialised for recreational use in that country. More liberal jurisdictions however might potentially permit the sale of bretazenil as a recreational alternative to alcohol, especially in countries such as Russia where liver and brain damage from chronic alcohol abuse place a severe burden on the health service and so the potential advantages of a less toxic alternative drug might outweigh the complications of introducing a new recreational drug to the market.

See also


  1. ^ Nutt DJ (2006). "For "Critique and Commentaries" section of the Journal of Psychopharmacology: Alcohol alternatives - a goal for psychopharmacology?". Journal of Psychopharmacology. 20: 318–320. doi:10.1177/0269881106063042.
  2. ^ Sellers EM; et al. (1992). "Abuse liability of bretazenil and other partial agonists". Clinical Neuropharmacology. 15 Suppl 1(Pt A): 409 A. PMID 1354047.

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