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5 Questions That Still Linger After Michael Jackson's Death


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What drugs were in Michael Jackson's body at the time of his death?
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said Friday May 28, 2010, it will stop making its sedative propofol, which became infamous when it was linked to the death of Michael Jackson.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said Friday May 28, 2010, it will stop making its sedative propofol, which became infamous when it was linked to the death of Michael Jackson.
AP Photo/Richard Vogel

During his autopsy, several drugs were found in Jackson's system, including the following list of sedatives and other prescription drugs:

  • Propofol, lorazepam, midazolam, lidocaine, diazepam and nordiazepam were found in his blood.
  • Propofol, midazolam, lidocaine and ephedrine were in his urine.
  • Propofol and lidocaine were found in his liver.
  • Propofol was detected in his vitreous humor (part of the eye).
  • Propofol and lidocaine showed up in his stomach.

First, let's look at propofol.

Propofol is a powerful sedative used by anesthesiologists on patients undergoing surgery in a hospital setting. Well regarded for its quick and deep sedation -- it works in about 40 seconds -- during surgery, propofol is an unpredictable drug that's currently only approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be administered by health professionals trained in anesthesiology. Jackson did not have a prescription for propofol, and bottles without patient or doctor names -- and without dosage directions -- were found at the scene.

Many of the other drugs in Jackson's system were benzodiazepines: lorazepam, midazolam, diazepam (known to most of us as Valium) and nordiazepam. Doctors commonly prescribe these drugs to treat anxiety and to induce sleep or sedation. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic.

In addition to the drugs found in Jackson's system, the following drugs were found at the scene of his death:

  • Trazadone, an antidepressant
  • Temazepam, a sleep aid
  • Clonazepam, used to treat panic attacks and seizures
  • Hydroquinone, used to treat vitiligo by reducing the amount of melanin in the skin
  • Benoquin, used to treat vitiligo by lightening the skin
  • Flumazenil, used to reverse the effects of a benzodiazepine overdose
  • Zanaflex (tizanidine), a muscle relaxant
  • Prednisone, a corticosteroid
  • Flomax, used to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate
  • Amoxicillin, an antibiotic
  • Azithromycin, an antibiotic
  • Ephedrine (a stimulant), caffeine and Bayer aspirin