Health Team

Some patients needing Propofol anxious after Jackson's death

Posted August 5, 2009 1:59 p.m. EDT
Updated August 5, 2009 8:19 p.m. EDT

— Since Michael Jackson’s death on June 25, talk has centered on his alleged use of an anesthesia drug called Propofol and what factor that might have played in his death.

The drug is marketed as Diprivan. It has virtually replaced Sodium Pentathol in general anesthesia for surgery and other procedures.

That has caused some anxiety in people who may need the drug for a procedure.

WakeMed Anesthesiologist Dr. Robert Alphin said patients under the drug need assistance breathing, including a mechanical ventilator.

“So the machine can actually breathe for the patient,” he said.

Alphin also closely monitors patients’ other vital signs while they're asleep.

“Propofol is a very safe drug. It's routinely used. It's a very important part of what anesthesiologists use everyday in the operating room,” he said.

There are reports of people using the anesthetic for recreational purposes. It can produce mild euphoria and hallucinations. Reports of its abuse have been among some medical staff who have access to it. However, abuse is relatively rare. At least three deaths from self-administration have been recorded, according to WRAL Health Team Physician Dr. Allen Mask.

“It's not a controlled substance. It hasn't been scheduled by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, but that is under review,” he said.

Days after Jackson's sudden death, investigators found Propofol inside his rented mansion. The singer's former nurse says he asked for the drug to battle his insomnia. Autopsy results have not been released yet.