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michael jackson + lethal levels of propofol = death ruling of homicide

August 24, 2009


The Los Angeles coroner has concluded preliminarily that singer Michael Jackson died of an overdose of propofol, a drug he was given to help him sleep, according to court documents released Monday.

Los Angeles’ coroner Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran reached that preliminary conclusion after reviewing toxicology results carried out on Jackson’s blood, according to a search warrant and affidavit unsealed in Houston, Texas.

The 32-page warrant said Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson’s personal physician, told a detective that he had been treating Jackson for insomnia for six weeks. Murray said each night he gave Jackson 50 mg of propofol, also known as Diprivan, diluted with the anesthetic lidocaine via an intravenous drip.

Worried that Jackson may have been becoming addicted to the drug, the Houston cardiologist said he attempted to wean him from it, putting together combinations of other drugs that succeeded in helping Jackson sleep during the two nights prior to his death.

But on June 25, other drugs failed to do the job, he told the detective, who described the following: At about 1:30 a.m., Murray gave Jackson 10 mg of Valium. At about 2 a.m., he injected Jackson with 2 mg of the anti-anxiety drug Ativan. At about 3 a.m., Murray then administered 2 mg of the sedative Versed. At about 5 a.m., Murray administered another 2 mg of Ativan. At about 7:30 a.m., Murray gave Jackson yet another 2 mg of Versed.

“Murray stated that he was continuously at Jackson’s bedside and was monitoring him with a pulse oximeter,” a device that measures the oxygen saturation of a person’s blood, according to the affidavit.

At about 10:40 a.m., Murray finally administered 25 mg of propofol “after repeated demands/requests from Jackson,” the affidavit said.

“Jackson finally went to sleep and Murray stated that he remained monitoring him. After approximately 10 minutes, Murray stated he left Jackson’s side to go to the restroom and relieve himself. Murray stated he was out of the room for about 2 minutes maximum. Upon his return, Murray noticed that Jackson was no longer breathing.”

Propofol is administered intravenously in operating rooms as a general anesthetic, the manufacturer AstraZeneca told CNN.

The drug works as a depressant on the central nervous system.

“It works on your brain,” said Dr. Zeev Kain, the chair of the anesthesiology department at the University of California –Irvine. “It basically puts the entire brain to sleep.”

However, once the infusion is stopped, the patient wakes up almost immediately.

“So if you’re going to do this, you’d have to have somebody right there giving you the medication and monitoring you continuously,” Kain said.

Dr. Hector Vila, chairman of the Ambulatory Surgery Committee for the American Society of Anesthesiologists, said he administers the drug during office procedures such as urology, dentistry and gynecology. It is also the most common anesthetic for colonoscopies, he said.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 24, 2009 8:42 pm

    It’s not surprising considering he was healthy and full of energy the day before.

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