July 3rd, 2009
08:55 PM ET

Is Diprivan dangerous?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/07/02/diprivan.propofol.jackson/art.surgery.gi.jpg caption="Patients undergoing surgery may receive Diprivan to keep them sedated during the procedure."]

Elizabeth Landau

Diprivan is a powerful I.V. anesthetic drug used for patients undergoing certain surgeries and diagnostic procedures.

The drug is making headlines with the claim from a nurse who worked for pop icon Michael Jackson that the singer, who died June 25, had repeatedly asked her about the drug. Nurse Cherilyn Lee told CNN that Jackson had brought up Diprivan about three months ago, saying he needed it for insomnia and that his doctor said it was safe.

"He said, 'I am so sleepy. I cannot sleep. I want to have at least eight hours of sleep,'" Lee told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

The medication, whose generic name is propofol, renders the patient unconscious for as long as doctors deem necessary. The patient wakes up almost immediately after the infusion is stopped, experts say.

But treating sleep disorders is not an approved use of the drug. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says Diprivan should be given only by people trained in the administration of general anesthesia and who are not involved in the conduct of the surgery or diagnostic procedure.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Medical News • Michael Jackson
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Erica

    I am very saddened by the death of Michael Jackson.What I'd like to know is why didn't the drs look into giving Michael some powerful prescription sleep meds? It wouldve been way safer than diprivan and he would still be here today!! Erica

    July 28, 2009 at 8:53 am |
  2. Holly

    how long does it take to get addicted to depravan. I know you can get hooked to demerol almost immediatley.

    July 7, 2009 at 3:28 pm |
  3. yin

    according to the patient – professional confidentiality act, do the friends of micheal jackson, who are in the medical profession, (that is the reason why he confided in them), have the right to disclose to the press and public any of his health conditions or use of drugs?

    July 7, 2009 at 9:03 am |
  4. Pam

    If Michael was such a good father as reported why didn't he think of his children instead of being addicted to drugs. He had the money to go to rehab. He definitely did not put his children first in his life.

    July 4, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  5. Sue Beauchamp

    Wow how sad the presure of life and fame and Michael had to go so far to get a good night sleep, that is so sad.

    Sue B

    Will always miss you


    July 4, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  6. Deborah from Iowa

    I'm a nurse, and after the RN came forward and now after finding Dirivan in his home, I am wondering if his "medical" team had him "sign-off" on administering the drug to him, so they would not be liable for any undesirable outcome. It sounds as though Mr. Jackson was particularly determined to take this particular drug despite warnings, and it would seem to me that he may have released them from any legal responsibility to get what he wanted.

    July 4, 2009 at 7:24 am |
  7. Katie

    Clearly Michael Jackson had the resources and connections to find a doctor or doctors that were willing to administer Diprivan in a private non-hospital setting and now he's dead because of it. He wanted to find someone willing to take that risk and it appears he was successful. I guess we'll know more when the toxicology testing is complete.

    As an EMT, I was trying to figure out why a doctor would put a patient under without having him intubated and closely monitored and then it dawned on me. Obviously if you are a singer, you can't be repeatedly intubated and hit the stage at night and sing. Your vocal cords would be irritated and potentially damaged. I am sure this was probably discussed and somehow it was agreed that he would be put under and watched without being placed on a ventilator. Obviously if his respiratory rate is depressed beyond a certain level, carbon dioxide would have built up and that is probably what led to cardiac arrest in his case.

    I have a feeling that a doctor is going to wind up in prison over this one and I hope that other medical professionals that cater to drug seeking celebrities pay close attention.

    I wonder if anyone even bothered to explain to Michael that being in a coma isn't the same as sleeping. Sleep is a restorative function that our body requires, coma is not.

    So now he sleeps forever because of poor judgment and an individuals willingness to do whatever he asked for some unknown sum of money.

    July 4, 2009 at 5:04 am |
  8. Kelly

    I believe that the Dr. who administered the drug that is only suppose to be used in hospitals to Michael Jackson should be charged with nothing short of murder. He knew what he was doing. He had to off. No matter how much Michael begged for this drug the Dr. never should have administered it if this is true of what you have been reporting. I truely believe this in my heart that Michael was taken from us and that this should have never happened. Now, I need to say I am only going by what has been reported on CNN and as of now Anderson Cooper reported this. The Dr. knew that if Michael was having trouble he should have been put in a hospital not taking it into his hands and trying to help Michael. How did he really help Michael? This Dr. needs to answer for what he has done. If the Dr. never did what he did Michael would still be alive. Maybe tired but alive.

    July 4, 2009 at 3:56 am |
  9. Cynthia Stevens

    Because this drug is white liquid, it joking nickname is :Milk of Amnesia".
    I've had it for both colonoscopies, heart arhythmia (severe) in the emergency room twice this past year so they could shock my heart back to normal rhythm, for my angiogram, and lastly for having my pacemaker/defibrillator put in.
    It was just as described: I watched it go into my IV and was instantly unconscious, until after they discontinued it. One time it took 45 minutes for me to come to. I know it is not to be administered withou full revival apparatus and doctors present!
    I cannot imagine using the amount to keep you asleep 8 hours! I think it was irresponsible of AEG to pay so much money for a 24-hr,/day personal doctor for Michael Jackson, without a specific diagnosis, and considering his drug habits, well known among his inner circle.

    July 4, 2009 at 3:37 am |
  10. Joe Bangali

    The last time I checked it is the doctor's responsibility to do what is best for the patient, and in Michael's case it seems like these doctor's did not uphold that standard, therefor we are left to mourn the death of a legend.

    July 4, 2009 at 3:31 am |
  11. Dolores

    The sad thing is, when you have a sleeping disorder, or can't sleep for nights on end (I just went through an 18-day period of insomnia), you will almost do ANYthing to make sleep come. The doctor gives you one medication to help ... and you STILL stay awake all night but fall asleep at 8am and sleep through the day. A man going through a rehearsal schedule doesn't have that luxury. Sleep medication, what's out there today, isn't an exact science. You can really become desperate for sleep, and I hate to think Michael was that desperate. Were he any other soul, he'd have just made an appointment and seen the doctor like the rest of us. That he was EVER given this drug in the first place is a shame, because, to him, I imagine it became THE cure-all when he was desperate not just to sleep, but also to wake at a prescribed hour and function - and function highly, with a grueling physical rehearsal set. While we may never know all the answers, I am sad to think of Michael being as desperate for sleep as I get when I go through these periods of insomnia. And when you can't sleep, you can't function...at all. Michael just may not have felt he had the luxury of being human...right before his tour.

    July 4, 2009 at 3:01 am |
  12. dottie

    yoga,,, may have help.....hindu system of excercise.it's calm
    you down
    massage -rubbing or kneading the muscles ,treatment aid to relaxation..
    reflexologist. study of reflexes behaviour,relaxation and healing
    of the body.

    please celebrity stay of those dangerous drugs ,they're not safe.

    July 4, 2009 at 2:43 am |
  13. D.Marie

    First of all, I would like to say, somebody needs 2 look at this doctor Murray a little bit more closer! I think he plays a very vital role in the death of M.J., because how is it that your someone's priate live in doctor and not know what he's taking when your the one responsible for giving the medication to him! Second of all in the year 2009, especially with the type of technology we have, how in the world could you not have a landline phone in the rental home! On top of that, he leaves M.J. yelling for help, finally found someone who dials 911 for him, and then he is doing CPR on the bed. The guy that made the call didn't know the address, from what I heard. I think it wassaid that it was a security guard or chef that made the call. Regardless of who made the call. How could you not know the address as to where you are! Even if he didnt know the address he could've went and looked on the outside of the house or on the mailbox, I would think..and when the caller dialed 911, why didn't the caller say it was M.J. not breathing instead of indentifying him as a man who is not breathing? Last but not least, from what I'm hearing about this Diprivan, that is medication that is injected and I dont think that M.J. injected himself. I have lots more to say, food for thought, but I will let it rest for now..in hopes of the DEA, FBI, LAPD, of whomever looks at this doctor more closer, I think you will find your answer.

    July 4, 2009 at 2:25 am |
  14. joan smith

    If diprivan and other (or older) anesthesia drugs are addictive, then could all of the bizarre plastic surgeries we have seen Michael Jackson have over the years be simply drug-induced behavior because he wanted to be put under anesthesia? OMG! The light may be coming on.

    July 4, 2009 at 2:02 am |
  15. mill2mac3

    Diprivan is very safe when administered by clinicians trained in using the drug and managing the cardiopulmonary side effects. The drug is used hundreds of times a day at each of the major U.S. medical centers without adverse events.

    July 4, 2009 at 1:40 am |
  16. Nduta

    I feel pain and sadness with each news article about Michael Jackson. He badly needed someone to watch out for him and take care of him. An anaesthesiologist on tour with him? Diprivan? $100,000 worth of prescription drugs. Who were these enablers? What work ethic did they operate on? Were they only after the money? Poor Michael.

    July 4, 2009 at 12:57 am |
  17. Lori from IL

    Had minor surgery yesterday (home today) - yesterday, when I woke up in the recovery room – I read on the monitor that Propofol (generic for Diprivan) was the anesthesia administered during my surgery. (Through an IV while being administered and monitored by a board certified anesthesiologist.)

    I woke up quickly and the anesthesiologist was at the foot of the bed. I asked him about the drug (having learned about it on AC360). He laughed, said "I guess your doing okay," and then we had an interesting discussion about the drug. What a coincidence!

    I can attest to the fact that it puts you out very quickly and it was a great drug for me under the circumastances– no side effects..

    Can't imagine using this type of drug at home as a sleeping medication - scary!

    July 4, 2009 at 12:38 am |
  18. Slovakia Mike

    I am a registered nurse, but have not practiced in several years. I have given Diprivan many times in the past in the ICU. The nurse who originally stated she was not familiar with the drug most likely does not work critical care or surgery. One of the main things to keep in mind is that this drug will actually decrease respirations. Most patients receiving Diprivan are on the ventilator for this reason. Without the presence of a ventialtor, or the patients' CO2 levels will rise and ultimately lead to death in a short time. Without, at a minimum, an O2 saturation monitor, a person would be in extreme danger of respitory or cardiac arrest. Whoever administered Diprivan to Michael Jackson, is either an idiot, or a murderer. Either case.... someone WILL be arrested!! you read it here first.

    July 4, 2009 at 12:36 am |
  19. Victor

    ...CNN should interview physicians who are more knowledgeful and familiar with the usage of Diprivan.

    Just watched Anderson Cooper interview Dr Pinsky [Addiction specialist] who inaccurately states, "Propofol is only used by anesthesiologist". The drug has more usage in intensive care units [ICU] than the "OR" in many centers.

    How can a patient develop addiction to propofol whilst its usage in regulated in hospitals. Tolerance and addiction are not synonymous. Some of these "blank comments" can send a frenzy of fear to family members who have loved ones' in ICU’s under propofol infusion.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:48 pm |
  20. Ron Caruso

    Please read the warning inser on Propofol or Dipriva....The FDA clearly states that Propofol should be administered by people who can manage a patients airway...in other words only those people should administer propofol who can help people breathe with a breathing tube in case they were to stop breathing.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:36 pm |
  21. Karen

    Anderson, Maybe this is not about getting high & more about not being. I have come to the conclusion, after viewing the rehearsal tape and hearing from friends & coworkers, Michael was not consistently high, that Michael found demerol and like drugs to be debilitating in their recovery time, and a difficulty & disfunction to his strenuous schedule. Being an insomniac, he opted for the instant sleep & recovery diprivan afforded him. I believe, in his mind, this drug induced comma was some form of escape & rest.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:31 pm |
  22. Al Beacock

    Just a quick comment on MJ's passing, my father passed away after being put to sleep, he had an alergic reaction to whatever the doctor used, we found out later that he experienced "Malignant Hyperthermia" it is a fairly rare but does happen more than you think, I wonder if this could have happened to MJ ??

    July 3, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  23. Deonte Broadway

    i cant help but to think if michael jackson smoked some medical marijuana for his sleep and pain he would still be here to bless us with his presents

    July 3, 2009 at 11:22 pm |
  24. Sabrina in Las Vegas

    IT says it gives them a "feeling of being well rested" but are they actually well rested?

    Does it do the same as sleep/rest or it not allowing the body to do its repair processes?

    July 3, 2009 at 11:11 pm |
  25. maryann

    Even though Michael had the $$$ resources to acquire any medication he wanted, from any doctor he could hire, these are not the sole reason for his death! His family, his siblings, his parents
    are the reason, if they really cared about him they would have taken concern about his strange behavior, they could have cared less,
    jealously, annomosity cunsumed them, Michael was secure
    and confident on stage, but, in his private life he was crying out
    for recognition from his family, and he never received it!!!! Shame on them all.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:09 pm |
  26. Sumera-Maryland

    I wish, Ms. Lee had informed Michael's doctor about the drug. Its too late!

    July 3, 2009 at 11:07 pm |
  27. cathy l

    i remember propofol from a family member being in ICU in a terminal situation. the IV drip keeps the patient in a coma basically while intubed. i can't imagine someone getting their hands on that stuff outside a hospital setting and knowing what to do. it required some serious monitoring. so disturbing that mj was possibly using it to get some sleep.
    so so sad.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  28. Ann-Virginia

    All the Drs.that gave MJ this and other dangerous drugs should be investigated and some should probably go to jail.I'll bet there are a lot of nervous Drs.out there tonight!!

    July 3, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  29. Denise

    Has anyone checked out the nurse's story? She seems to be telling two different stories regarding the call she received from Michael on Father's Day. On one network she said a rep of his called her and she could hear Michael in the backgroun, yet on another network she said she spoke to him about how one side of his body was hot and the other cold.

    July 3, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  30. Amy McMahon

    Diprivan is to only be used under the suppervision of a anesthesiologist. It is administered by IV. Whatever doctor administered this to him is practicing outside of his scope of practice. When this Dr. is found, he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    July 3, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  31. Marguerite Rendering

    If Michael Jackson was using Diprivan for weeks, months, or even years as a way to become unconcious, mimicking sleep but without restorative sleep cycles, was he essentially sleep deprived? If so, could that long term deprivation actually cause cardiac arrest?

    July 3, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  32. vaniece from ohio

    wow this is a very sad story, what i would like to know is what kind of doctor would give this to someone out of the hospital; why is the nurse just now coming out about this as well. If it was me I would've tried to get him some help and get him out of harms way some how but, that easier said than done.

    July 3, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  33. Gayle

    Diprivan can be administered via injection. Case in point is published in:
    International Journal of Legal Medicine. 2001; 114(4-5): 248-51. Iwersen-Bergmann, S. et al., "Death after excessive propofol abuse." This is a case report of a male nurse "in which the autopsy showed unspecific signs of intoxication and criminological evidence pointed towards propofol abuse and/or overdose." Although it is reportedly rare, nonetheless, "the blood and brain concentrations corresponded to those found 1-2 min. after bolus administration [injection, sic] of a carcotic standard dose of 2.5 mg propofol/kg body weight."

    Source of citation: online search of National Library of Medicine's PubMed database.

    July 3, 2009 at 9:19 pm |
  34. Rose from Muscoy, Calif

    Wow, I remembered when I had to be put to sleep what a knock out! But I had a reaction to the medication that put me to sleep, I started shacking then the nurse give me Morphine. Oh, I had my nose fix.

    July 3, 2009 at 9:02 pm |

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