Drug amounts in Michael Jackson death probe don't add up, medical experts say
If Michael Jackson died from lethal levels of the powerful anesthetic propofol, then his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, would have had to inject much more of the drug than he reportedly told police, medical experts said.
That opinion is based on court records unsealed in Houston on Monday in which Los Angeles police detectives recount Murray's statement, taken in a three-hour interview two days after the pop star's death.
According to the records, Murray told them that he had been giving Jackson 50 milligrams of propofol each night over a six-week period. Murray told police that he had been trying to wean Jackson off the powerful anesthetic and, on the night of his death, gave him a combination of other sedatives -- until finally succumbing to Jackson's repeated demands for propofol.
According to the documents, Murray then gave Jackson 25 milligrams of propofol. But those amounts -- 25 and 50 milligrams -- are far below the dosage required to anesthesize someone and keep them asleep, several experts said.
"It doesn't make any sense," said Dr. John Dombrowski, a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. "I cannot believe that was the number that was given. Such a small amount won't tip anyone over in terms of respiratory depression. ... If that's what his testimony is, I don't believe it."
What's more likely, Dombrowski said, is that the numbers in the documents are somehow in error. Murray might not have provided an infusion rate -- such as 25 milligrams every few minutes -- or police did not understand the medical terminology. If the amount of propofol is higher, combined with the other medications, Dombrowski said, then "you are going to start to see an overdose."
The preliminary toxicology reports cited in the court records said that "lethal levels" of propofol were found in Jackson's blood, a finding that sources familiar with the investigation maintain was a significant factor in the pop star's death.
Murray has maintained that he believes nothing he administered Jackson should have led to his death and said through his attorney that he answered the questions posed by detectives truthfully. In a YouTube video posted recently, Murray thanked his supporters and said, "I have done all I could do. I told the truth, and I have faith the truth will prevail."
-- Kimi Yoshino
Photo: Conrad Murray. Credit: Getty Images