I Wanna Be Starting Something
Yesterday morning I was chatting to a friend – Sam – whilst 94.7 were playing a 30 minute Michael Jackson medley, and the cause of the heart attack that ended his life came up. Both of us agreed at the time that we wouldn’t be hugely surprised if drugs had had something to do with it, and just how long it would take for the rumours, gossip-mongers and tabloid-reliant sensationalists to start up on this track.
Sadly (and I guess not entirely unsurprisingly) is just how quickly the “accidental overdose of prescription drugs” story has started. Just as saddening is that the appearance of these stories has not come from the malicious scandal-whores of the gutter press as we suspected they might, but from family, friends and others close to the late star.
This morning the news channels and online services are full of reports of the heavy extent of MJ’s prescription drug dependence. And the fact that a large segment of those that knew the man personally had been aware of, and very concerned about, his reliance on copious amounts of pharmaceuticals as he prepared for his London return tour performances.
Brian Oxman, described as a Jackson family lawyer, also expressed concern over Jackson’s use of drugs.
“This is not something that has been unexpected … because of the medications which Michael was under,” Oxman told CNN. “I do not know the extent of the medications that he was taking but the reports we had been receiving in the family is that they were extensive.”
He added: “When you warn people that this is what’s going to happen and then it happens … Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
Source: The Guardian
A number of the reports this morning are indicating that Jackson received an injection of a morphine-like drug (Demerol – described in one report as a “mind-bending” painkiller) shortly before his collapse. It’s being speculated that the injection of the powerful painkiller was administered by his “personal physician” who subsequently landed up performing the initial CPR on the pop star after he went into cardiac arrest. The doctor (Conrad Robert Murray) has since vanished and is now being actively sought by Los Angeles police as a “person of interest” who could possibly help in them in their investigation.
The results of the LA County Coroners’ autopsy were “inconclusive at this stage”. While the body showed no signs of trauma and foul-play were not suspected, the Coroner was not prepared to confirm the cause of the heart failure. Basically the results of laboratory toxicology testing would be the only way to confirm whether the drug cocktail that MJ was relying on to get through the day contributed to his death. These test results could take as much as 6 – 8 weeks to be completed.
Even so, one of those close to him, Liza Minnelli, was prepared to speculate:
Last night, his good friend Liza Minnelli suggested the post mortem examination might provide uncomfortable revelations. “When the autopsy comes, all hell’s going to break loose, so thank God we’re celebrating him now,” she told CBS.
Source: The Guardian
Jackson had a long history of taking painkillers, including Demerol. Medical experts said Demerol could lead to the sort of cardiac arrest suffered by Jackson, particularly if taken with other drugs.
Demerol (which is essentially the commercial version of pethidin) wasn’t the only drug Jackson was taking. Not by a long shot.
He was the king of popping pills.
Michael Jackson was taking a dangerous cocktail of powerful prescription drugs including several highly addictive narcotics in the months before his death from cardiac arrest, sources said today.
In addition to the mind-bending pain killer Demerol which the King of Pop took three times a day, he also took 3 milligrams of the overwhelming narcotic Dilaudid as well as Vicodin daily.
To add to the reality-alerting effect of the Demerol, Jackson also took a drug called Vistaril, which amplifies the narcotics effect, experts say.
Rounding out the staggering pharmacopia, Jackson scarfed down the muscle relaxant Soma and antidepressants Zoloft and Paxil, anti-anxiety drug Xanax and the heartburn medication Prilosec on a daily basis, a source close to the Jackson family told the British paper The Sun.
Source: The New York Post
So things are starting to sound as if the standard celebrity (read Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, and many others) conclusion of “accidental death” caused by an overdose of prescription medications is on the way:
“Right now it looks to me like this is a tragic accidental death – multiple drugs I predict,” Dr Cyril Wecht, a former president of the American Academy of Forensic Science, said in an interview on CNN on Friday.
Source: The Age – Australia
My question, and the something that I wanna be startin’ is this: Michael presumably was under the care of his doctor – “prescription medication” implies that a licensed medical professional needed to prescribe the drugs in the first place. Surely if the combination of medications he was prescribed to take are known to be incompatible, and potentially lethal when combined, his death cannot be described as being “accidental”? Aren’t we getting close to the line between “accidental death” and “assisted suicide” perhaps?