New perspectives on propofol allergy

Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2021 Dec 9;78(24):2195-2203. doi: 10.1093/ajhp/zxab298.


Purpose: Propofol is an intravenous sedative used in many patient populations and care settings. Although generally considered safe and effective, the drug has historically been avoided in patients with reported allergies to egg, soy, and/or peanut on the basis of the manufacturer's prescribing information. Concerns exist for potential adverse events, increased medication costs, reduced efficacy, and risk of medication errors when using alternative agents. Here we present a critical examination of the literature concerning cross-reactivity of food allergies with propofol to provide evidence-based recommendations for the evaluation and management of potential allergic reactions.

Summary: Literature regarding the history of propofol allergy warnings and clinical trial data were assessed to provide an alternative perspective on avoidance of propofol in patients with food allergies. Suspected trigger molecules are discussed, with evaluation of the antigenic potential of excipient ingredients used in the manufacture of multiple propofol formulations. Evidence-based recommendations are provided for pharmacist-led screening of adult patients with reported food allergies to support selection of propofol or alternative therapy.

Conclusion: There is a lack of definitive evidence that propofol must be routinely avoided in patients with reported allergies to egg, soy, and/or peanut products. Data from clinical trials suggest that propofol is safe for patients with nonanaphylactic food allergies. Patients who do experience allergic reactions following administration of propofol should undergo further testing to definitively identify the specific trigger and prevent future unnecessary avoidance of preferred medication regimens. Pharmacists can play an important role in interviewing patients with reported food allergies to better determine the risk vs benefit of propofol avoidance.

Keywords: allergy interview; anaphylaxis; food hypersensitivity; propofol.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity*
  • Propofol* / adverse effects


  • Propofol