Propofol – The Milk of Amnesia

Propofol is a short-acting sedative-hypnotic that’s used to initiate and maintain general anesthesia. It also decreases levels of consciousness along with a loss of memory for sedation during minor medical procedures. It is administered intravenously.

The drug was discovered in 1977. It is considered an effective and safe medication when used properly in the clinical setting. It has largely replaced the drug sodium thiopental because propofol clears from a patient’s body faster and, therefore, recovery from anesthesia is more rapid. It has been referred to as the “milk of amnesia” because of its milky appearance.

It is sometimes used off-label for “non-medical” sedation, and the Missouri Supreme Court ruled to allow the drug to be used as part of the lethal cocktail given to execute prisoners condemned to death. For that reason, the United Kingdom banned exports of propofol drug products to the United States, and countries in the European Union are threatening to do the same. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, no other state allows its use in the execution process at present.

Profofol became the drug of focus in the death of Michael Jackson in which the drug was used in combination with other sedative and hypnotic drugs in what turned out to be a lethal cocktail.

Recreational use of the drug is rare because of its use only in a clinical setting, its high potency and the need for monitoring to assure safe use. There are reports, however, of recreational use among medical staff, notably anesthetists, who have easy access to the drug. Common side effects with recreational use include extreme respiratory depression, decreased heart rate and possible oxygen deprivation. More extreme, but rare, side effects include dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that resembles a tremor. Seizures and priapism, a long-lasting erection, are also reported side effects.

Although propofol is most effective when given intravenously, there have been studies in which the drug was given orally with mild sedative results. If one considers that the drug given intravenously produces 100% bioavailability (100% therapeutic effect), an oral dose of the same quantity was shown to be only about 20% effective.

In animal studies, a 16-fold higher oral dose was needed to produce a similar sedative effect as compared to an intravenous dose. This is because of the drug’s limited water-soluble nature (oil soluble), and the fact that the stomach lining and liver filter out the potency of the drug before it can enter the blood stream.

I find propofol to be an interesting drug and might use it one day in a murder mystery. Maybe you will too!

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

About James J. Murray, Fiction Writer

With experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management, medications and their impact on one’s quality of life have been my expertise. My secret passion of murder and mayhem, however, is a whole other matter. I’ve always loved reading murder mysteries and thrillers, and longed to weave such tales of my own. Drawing on my clinical expertise as a pharmacist and my infatuation with the lethal effects of drugs, my tales of murder, mayhem and medicine will have you looking over your shoulder and suspicious of anything in your medicine cabinet.
This entry was posted in About James J. Murray, About Murder, About Writing, All About Murder, Better Fiction Writing, Blog About Poisons in Fiction Writing, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Bloodless Death Scenes, Deadly Drugs in America, Deciding How to Kill Off a Character in a Novel, Designer Drug Deaths, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Better Writing Skills, Developing Storyline Ideas, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Drug Misadventures, Drugs For Murder Plots, Drugs That Create Memory Loss, Drugs Used For Murder, Drugs Used for Near Death Experiences (NDE), Drugs Used to Murder, Elements of Murder, Growing As A Writer, How to Choose a Murder Weapon for a Plot Idea, How To Write A BloodLess Murder Scene, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Interesting Murder Weapons, James J. Murray Blog, Killing Off Characters in Writing, Killing Off Characters in Your Novel, Lethal Agents and Murder, Lethal Chemicals in Murder Mysteries, Methods of Murder, Milk of Amnesia, Misuses of Propofol, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Weapons Discussed, Murder With Drugs, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, New Methods To Kill Characters in Your Novel, Pharmacy/Pharmaceuticals, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Plotting Murder Scenes, Plotting The Perfect Murder, Prescription For Murder Blog, Propofol, Propofol and its Uses, The Science of Murder, The Writings of James J. Murray, Thrilling Short Stories, Unique Murder Plots, Unique Murder Weapons, Uses of Propofol, Ways to Murder, Writing Dramatic Murder Scenes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Propofol – The Milk of Amnesia

  1. Thank you, James, for another ingenious arrow we can add to our quiver of mystery novel quirks. 😉
    And for the humor: Milk of Amnesia. Chuckle!

  2. Thanks! I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. All the best!

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