PROPOFOL- propofol injection, emulsion
Teva Parenteral Medicines, Inc.


Contains a sulfite


Rx only

Strict aseptic technique must always be maintained during handling. Propofol injectable emulsion is a single access parenteral product (single patient infusion vial) which contains sodium metabisulfite (0.25 mg/mL) to retard the rate of growth of microorganisms, for up to 12 hours, in the event of accidental extrinsic contamination. However, propofol injectable emulsion can still support the growth of microorganisms as it is not an antimicrobially preserved product under USP standards. Do not use if contamination is suspected. Discard unused drug product as directed within the required time limits. There have been reports in which failure to use aseptic technique when handling propofol injectable emulsion was associated with microbial contamination of the product and with fever, infection/sepsis, other life-threatening illness, and/or death.

There have been reports, in the literature and other public sources, of the transmission of bloodborne pathogens (such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV) from unsafe injection practices, and use of propofol vials intended for single use on multiple persons. Propofol injectable emulsion vials are never to be accessed more than once or used on more than one person.



Propofol injectable emulsion USP is a sterile, nonpyrogenic emulsion containing 10 mg/mL of propofol, USP suitable for intravenous administration. Propofol, USP is chemically described as 2, 6-diisopropylphenol. The structural formula is:

Structural Formula

C12 H18 O M.W. 178.27

Propofol, USP is very slightly soluble in water and, thus, is formulated in a white, oil-in-water emulsion. The pKa is 11. The octanol/water partition coefficient for propofol, USP is 6761:1 at a pH of 6 to 8.5. In addition to the active component, propofol, USP, the formulation also contains soybean oil (100 mg/mL), glycerol (22.5 mg/mL), egg yolk phospholipid (12 mg/mL), and sodium metabisulfite (0.25 mg/mL); with sodium hydroxide to adjust pH. The propofol injectable emulsion USP is isotonic and has a pH of 4.5 to 6.6.



Propofol injectable emulsion is an intravenous sedative-hypnotic agent for use in the induction and maintenance of anesthesia or sedation. Intravenous injection of a therapeutic dose of propofol induces hypnosis, with minimal excitation, usually within 40 seconds from the start of injection (the time for one arm-brain circulation). As with other rapidly acting intravenous anesthetic agents, the half-time of the blood-brain equilibration is approximately 1 to 3 minutes, accounting for the rate of induction of anesthesia. The mechanism of action, like all general anesthetics, is poorly understood. However, propofol is thought to produce its sedative/anesthetic effects by the positive modulation of the inhibitory function of the neurotransmitter GABA through the ligand-gated GABAA receptors.


Pharmacodynamic properties of propofol are dependent upon the therapeutic blood propofol concentrations. Steady-state propofol blood concentrations are generally proportional to infusion rates. Undesirable side effects, such as cardiorespiratory depression, are likely to occur at higher blood concentrations which result from bolus dosing or rapid increases in infusion rates. An adequate interval (3 to 5 minutes) must be allowed between dose adjustments in order to assess clinical effects.

The hemodynamic effects of propofol injectable emulsion during induction of anesthesia vary. If spontaneous ventilation is maintained, the major cardiovascular effect is arterial hypotension (sometimes greater than a 30% decrease) with little or no change in heart rate and no appreciable decrease in cardiac output. If ventilation is assisted or controlled (positive pressure ventilation), there is an increase in the incidence and the degree of depression of cardiac output. Addition of an opioid, used as a premedicant, further decreases cardiac output and respiratory drive.

If anesthesia is continued by infusion of propofol injectable emulsion, the stimulation of endotracheal intubation and surgery may return arterial pressure towards normal. However, cardiac output may remain depressed. Comparative clinical studies have shown that the hemodynamic effects of propofol injectable emulsion during induction of anesthesia are generally more pronounced than with other intravenous (IV) induction agents.

Induction of anesthesia with propofol injectable emulsion is frequently associated with apnea in both adults and pediatric patients. In adult patients who received propofol injectable emulsion (2 to 2.5 mg/kg), apnea lasted less than 30 seconds in 7% of patients, 30 to 60 seconds in 24% of patients, and more than 60 seconds in 12% of patients. In pediatric patients from birth through 16 years of age assessable for apnea who received bolus doses of propofol injectable emulsion (1 to 3.6 mg/kg), apnea lasted less than 30 seconds in 12% of patients, 30 to 60 seconds in 10% of patients, and more than 60 seconds in 5% of patients.

During maintenance of general anesthesia, propofol injectable emulsion causes a decrease in spontaneous minute ventilation usually associated with an increase in carbon dioxide tension which may be marked depending upon the rate of administration and concurrent use of other medications (e.g., opioids, sedatives, etc.).

During monitored anesthesia care (MAC) sedation, attention must be given to the cardiorespiratory effects of propofol injectable emulsion. Hypotension, oxyhemoglobin desaturation, apnea, and airway obstruction can occur, especially following a rapid bolus of propofol injectable emulsion. During initiation of MAC sedation, slow infusion or slow injection techniques are preferable over rapid bolus administration. During maintenance of MAC sedation, a variable rate infusion is preferable over intermittent bolus administration in order to minimize undesirable cardiorespiratory effects. In the elderly, debilitated, or ASA-PS III or IV patients, rapid (single or repeated) bolus dose administration should not be used for MAC sedation (see WARNINGS).

Clinical and preclinical studies suggest that propofol injectable emulsion is rarely associated with elevation of plasma histamine levels.

Preliminary findings in patients with normal intraocular pressure indicate that propofol injectable emulsion produces a decrease in intraocular pressure which may be associated with a concomitant decrease in systemic vascular resistance.

Clinical studies indicate that propofol injectable emulsion when used in combination with hypocarbia increases cerebrovascular resistance and decreases cerebral blood flow, cerebral metabolic oxygen consumption, and intracranial pressure. Propofol injectable emulsion does not affect cerebrovascular reactivity to changes in arterial carbon dioxide tension (see Clinical Trials, Neuroanesthesia).

Clinical studies indicate that propofol injectable emulsion does not suppress the adrenal response to ACTH.

Animal studies and limited experience in susceptible patients have not indicated any propensity of propofol injectable emulsion to induce malignant hyperthermia.


The pharmacokinetics of propofol are well described by a three compartment linear model with compartments representing the plasma, rapidly equilibrating tissues, and slowly equilibrating tissues.

Following an IV bolus dose, there is rapid equilibration between the plasma and the brain, accounting for the rapid onset of anesthesia. Plasma levels initially decline rapidly as a result of both distribution and metabolic clearance. Distribution accounts for about half of this decline following a bolus of propofol. However, distribution is not constant over time, but decreases as body tissues equilibrate with plasma and become saturated. The rate at which equilibration occurs is a function of the rate and duration of the infusion. When equilibration occurs there is no longer a net transfer of propofol between tissues and plasma.

Discontinuation of the recommended doses of propofol injectable emulsion after the maintenance of anesthesia for approximately one hour, or for sedation in the ICU for one day, results in a prompt decrease in blood propofol concentrations and rapid awakening. Longer infusions (10 days of ICU sedation) result in accumulation of significant tissue stores of propofol, such that the reduction in circulating propofol is slowed and the time to awakening is increased.

By daily titration of propofol injectable emulsion dosage to achieve only the minimum effective therapeutic concentration, rapid awakening within 10 to 15 minutes can occur even after long-term administration. If, however, higher than necessary infusion levels have been maintained for a long time, propofol redistribution from fat and muscle to the plasma can be significant and slow recovery.

The figure below illustrates the fall of plasma propofol levels following infusions of various durations to provide ICU sedation.

Figure 1
(click image for full-size original)

The large contribution of distribution (about 50%) to the fall of propofol plasma levels following brief infusions means that after very long infusions a reduction in the infusion rate is appropriate by as much as half the initial infusion rate in order to maintain a constant plasma level. Therefore, failure to reduce the infusion rate in patients receiving propofol injectable emulsion for extended periods may result in excessively high blood concentrations of the drug. Thus, titration to clinical response and daily evaluation of sedation levels are important during use of propofol injectable emulsion infusion for ICU sedation.

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