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Bisulfite-containing propofol: is it a cost-effective alternative to Diprivan for induction of anesthesia?

Author(s): Shao X, Li H, White PF, Klein KW, Kulstad C, Owens A.

Affiliation(s): Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Management, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas 75235-9068, USA.

Publication date & source: 2000, Anesth Analg. , 91(4):871-5

Propofol (Diprivan(TM); AstraZeneca, Wilmington, DE) is a commonly used drug for the induction of general anesthesia in the ambulatory setting. With the availability of a new bisulfite-containing generic formulation of propofol, questions have arisen regarding its cost effectiveness and safety compared with Diprivan(TM). Two hundred healthy outpatients were randomly assigned, according to a double-blinded protocol, to receive either Diprivan(TM) or bisulfite-containing propofol 1.5 mg/kg IV as part of a standardized induction sequence. Maintenance of anesthesia consisted of either desflurane (4%-8% end-tidal) or sevoflurane (1%-2% end-tidal) in combination with a remifentanil infusion (0.125 microg x kg(-1) x min(-1) IV). Patient assessments included pain on injection, induction time, hemodynamic and bispectral electroencephalographic changes during induction, emergence time, and incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting. The two propofol groups were comparable demographically, and the induction times and bispectral index values during the induction were also similar. However, the bisulfite-containing formulation was associated with less severe pain on injection (5% vs 11%), with fewer patients recalling pain on injection after surgery (38% vs. 51%, P<0.05). None of the patients manifested allergic-type reactions after the induction of anesthesia. The acquisition cost (average wholesale price in US dollars) of a 20-mL ampoule of Diprivan(TM) was $15 compared with $13 for the bisulfite-containing propofol formulation. Therefore, we concluded that the bisulfite-containing formulation of propofol is a cost-effective alternative to Diprivan(TM) for the induction of outpatient anesthesia. Implications: Bisulfite-containing propofol and Diprivan(TM) (AstraZeneca, Wilmington, DE) were similar with respect to their induction characteristics; however, the generic formulation was associated with a smaller incidence of injection pain. Assuming that the drug costs are similar, these data suggest that the bisulfite-containing formulation of propofol is a cost-effective alternative to Diprivan(TM).

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