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Diprivan is the trade name for propofol (PROPE-uh-fawl), a product of AstraZeneca whose website on the drug is currently closed.

Propofol has a deceptively simple chemical structure and is known chemically as 2,6-diisopropylphenol.

It is a widely-used intravenous anesthetic used primarily for outpatient surgical procedures.

Propofol has a remarkably good safety record given its widespread use.

When used alone, or in combinations with the opioid analgesic fentanyl, it produces a "dissociative analgesia" that is very rarely fatal.

Hence, it's safety is one of the reasons it is used for outpatient surgery.

While it is a sedative, it has been reported to produce euphoria in some people (the pleasant feelings associated with morphine and other opioids).

The potential risk is from "propofol-infusion syndrome" - it can produce an elevation in body temperature that is usually not fatal (not "true" malignant hyperthermia as with the rare but fatal side effect of some inhaled anesthetics) However, most relevant to the Jackson case is that propofol can cause cardiac tachyarrhythmias (rhythmic disturbances at high heart rate), especially in people predisposed to cardiac problems.

As I wrote in my blog post last week, Jackson's reported long-term use of Demerol may have already primed him for cardiac problems due to the accumulation of a toxic metabolite, normeperidine.
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