Drugs & Health Blog

Real Teens Ask: Is Propofol a Drug?

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Sara Bellum

Since the death of Michael Jackson in 2009, “propofol” has been mentioned often in the news. The substance was found to be the cause of his death and was the center of the highly publicized trial of his doctor.

So, it’s no surprise there is a lot of curiosity about propofol. NIDA received questions about it during last year’s Drug Facts Chat Day.

During Chat Day, Cam from California asked about the basics—

Is propofol a drug?

Yes. Propofol is a common type of anesthetic—a drug that doctors use to “put people to sleep” for surgery. It is given to patients through an “intravenous drip,” (called an “IV” for short) that goes through a special needle into a patient’s vein, so the medicine goes directly into the bloodstream.

Doctors who give patients propofol are generally known as “anesthesiologists” and have special training. These experts set up the IV, make sure the patient is “sleeping” comfortably, and then carefully monitor vital signs (like heart rate, breathing, etc.) while the patient has surgery.

Doctors like using propofol because it leaves the body very quickly, which allows the patient to wake up after surgery more rapidly, without bad side effects. Propofol can be a useful drug when it’s given by people who are properly trained. But like many prescription drugs, it can be very harmful if used inappropriately. Propofol should be given only in a hospital setting where the patient can be closely monitored.

A Lost Legend

Michael Jackson died of acute propofol intoxication. Additional drugs found in Michael’s system were the depressants midazolam and diazepam, the painkiller Lidocaine, and the stimulant ephedrine. His doctor, Conrad Murray, was convicted of causing the singer’s death by giving Michael the propofol that caused him to stop breathing. By helping Michael abuse drugs—even if it was to “help him sleep”—he contributed to the loss of a legend. Michael’s untimely death was mourned by millions of people.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


I think that propofol should not be illegal becuase some people actually need it. Like for surgery or if they need help going to sleep. Just becuase Micheal Jackson chose to take alot alot of propofol and die. It should not be illegal just becuase one famous person choose to missuse one helpful drug and died does not mean the drug should be illegal. I also think if a drug is so dangrous that it can kill without missuse then it should be removed and be replaced with a less dangrous alterantive.

Right on!
Its not illegal you idiot can't you read.
I was an MJ from the moment he was in limelight. I love and miss him. I think that Conrad Murray shouldn't have given him all those drugs like that. God took MJ and sent him home. R.I.P MJ.
rip mj
Michael was a Inspiration to me and I hate that I did not get a Chance to meet him. He is the # 1 Person I will miss and love forever... R. I .P MJ Love always <3