, PARIS, Aug 26 – Propofol, the drug which reportedly killed pop star Michael Jackson two months ago, is a fast-acting hospital sedative, administered intravenously and used as a precursor for anaesthesia.
The drug, made by the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, is also sold under the brand name of Diprivan.
According to court documents released on Tuesday in Houston, Texas, Jackson was killed by a powerful cocktail of drugs in which Propofol was the fatal ingredient.
Francois Chast, head of the pharmacology department at Paris’s Hotel-Dieu Hospital, said Propofol was extremely powerful and not at all intended for use outside clinical settings.
"Propofol should have no business being in a house unless it happens to be equipped with an operating theatre," Chast said.
The drug is administered either by intravenous drip or by injector ahead of anaesthesia or to keep the patient anaesthetised during an operation.
"Propofol is a preferred sedative in the operating theatre because it is well tolerated and enables patients to recover swiftly and well," said Chast.
"This is why it’s commonly used in outpatient surgery or as a sedative for certain therapeutic or diagnostic examinations," such as endoscopy, he said.
Propofol is also used as a painkiller or anti-anxiety drug in post-operative care.
An overdose of Propofol can impede respiratory and cardiovascular function, leading to cardiac arrest, said Chast.
Shortly after Jackson’s death the celebrity news website TMZ.com — quoting unidentified sources — said Propofol had been found at Jackson’s rented mansion following his death.
In addition, Cherilyn Lee, a former nurse who cared for Jackson, told CNN that the star pleaded with her to provide him with the treatment in the last months of his life.