Readers' Representative Journal

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Propofol, the drug that killed Michael Jackson, isn't 'dangerous'

September 30, 2011 |  2:14 pm


In this week’s coverage of the trial of Michael Jackson’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, articles have been consistent in describing the drug that killed the pop star:

Tuesday: “the dangerous surgical anesthetic propofol”

Wednesday: “a dangerous anesthetic”

Thursday: “a dangerous surgical anesthetic”

Friday: “the dangerous surgical anesthetic propofol”

But reader Jim Gould of Burbank disputed that characterization.

“Propofol is not ‘dangerous,’ as your reporters write, when it is used, as it is thousands of times every day, as an anesthetic agent in proper surgical settings!” Gould emailed.

Indeed, according to the RxList website and drugmaker AstraZeneca, propofol is approved for use in children as young as 2 months.

The key, of course, is in how the drug is used -- a point that Gould also made.

“This is emphatically not to say that Dr. Murray had any business using the excellent, safe anesthetic agent outside an appropriate surgical setting, as a ‘sleeping pill!’” he wrote.

Gould’s point is well-taken. “Powerful” might be a better description for future stories.

-- Deirdre Edgar

Photo: Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren holds a bottle of propofol in court Thursday during the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times