The Bitter Pill

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DEA Swamped With Calls Regarding Jackson’s Death

Evelyn Pringle June 29, 2009

On June 27, 2009, the Drug Enforcement Agency issued a press release to members of the media titled: “DEA Responds to Large Number of Calls regarding Michael Jackson’s Death”.

The UK’s Sun newspaper claims Jackson was taking Demerol, Dilaudid, Vicodin, Xanax, Soma, Paxil, Zoloft and Prilosec.

“Due to the large amount of calls from the media regarding the death of Michael Jackson and questions regarding prescription drugs,” the DEA said in the press release, “the DEA has put information about prescription drug abuse and use on the front page of for your use.”

The headline on the agency’s website for a May 2009, report reads: “Recent Report Confirms Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse; Young Adults Hardest Hit”

The “National Prescription Drug Threat Assessment,” was prepared by the National Drug Intelligence Center in conjunction with the DEA.

“The report finds non-medical use of prescription drugs a serious threat to public health and safety, with unintentional deaths involving prescription opioids increasing 114 percent from 2001 to 2005, and treatment admissions increasing 74 percent in a similar four-year period,” the DEA advises on its website.

Key findings of the report listed on the site include:

Over 8,500 deaths nationwide involved prescription pain relievers in 2005, the latest year for which data are available, an increase of 114 percent since 2001. Emergency room visits for nonmedical use of pain relievers increased 39 percent from 2004 to 2006.

Treatment admissions for prescription opioids increased 74 percent from 2002 to 2006.

Nearly one third of individuals who began abusing drugs in the past year reported their first drug was a prescription drug: 19 percent indicated it was a prescription opioid. Thus, 1 in 5 new drug abusers are initiating use with potent narcotics, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone.

“In 2007, more than 2 million people who previously had not abused pain relievers reported misusing prescription opioids for the first time,” the DEA reports.

On June 28, 2009, the Sun revealed leaked autopsy details on Michael Jackson that showed “the singer was a virtual skeleton — barely eating and with only pills in his stomach at the time he died,” the report said.

At 5’10, Jackson reportedly weighed only 112 pounds at the time of his death.

“His hips, thighs and shoulders were riddled with needle wounds — believed to be the result of injections of narcotic painkillers, given three times a day for years,” the Sun wrote.

Four needle marks were found on Jackson’s chest believed to be a result of attempts to restart his heart with shots of adrenaline, according to the Sun. The autopsy also found several broken ribs caused by CPR attempts to resuscitate him.

Sources said “prescriptions for drugs for patients other than Jacko were found at his home,” the Sun noted. “Those patients were due to be quizzed.”

On Monday, June 29, 2009, in reference to OxyContin, the Sun reported: “A DEADLY morphine-like drug nicknamed “Hillbilly Heroin” has been discovered by cops in Jacko’s mansion.”

“Cops suspect Jacko’s aides used a trick dubbed “doctor shopping” — visiting multiple physicians to get massive quantities of drugs,” the Sun noted.

It was widely reported that Jackson received a shot of Demerol shortly before he died with suggestions it was administered by cardiologist, Dr Conrad Murray.

However, Edward Chernoff, an attorney for Murray, told the Associated Press that Murray denied reports that he gave Jackson a shot of Demerol prior to his death.

“Dr. Murray has never prescribed nor administered Demerol to Michael Jackson,” Chernoff said. “Not ever. Not that day. Not OxyContin for that matter.”

“He just happened to find him in his bed, and he wasn’t breathing,” the attorney said. “Mr. Jackson was still warm and had a pulse.”

Jackson reportedly had been preparing to go to London for his series of concerts that morning and Murray was hired as his personal physician for the tour at $150,000 a month.

On June 28, 2009, the AP reported that Chernoff “said the promoter of Jackson’s 50-show London concerts, AEG Live, owes the cardiologist $300,000.”

“His contract with the promoters states he would receive an amount of money each month to be his (Jackson’s) personal physician and they have failed to honor that contract,” Chernoff said. “They are two months behind.”

The president and CEO of AEG Live, Randy Phillips, “acknowledged the contract called for Murray to be paid $150,000 a month, but said the contract required Jackson’s signature,” the report noted.

“Michael never signed the contract,” Phillips said.

“He also said the doctor’s claim for payment may be against Jackson’s estate, not AEG which was merely advancing the money to Jackson,” according to the AP.

Phillips told the AP on June 26, 2009, that it was Jackson who insisted that Murray be put on the tour payroll. “As a company, we would have preferred not having a physician on staff full-time because it would have been cheaper without the hotels and travel, but Michael was insistent that he be hired,” Phillips said. “Michael said he had a rapport with him.”

On June 27, 2009, the AP reported that: “Records reveal years of financial troubles for Murray, a 1989 graduate of Meharry Medical College in Nashville who practices medicine in California, Nevada and Texas.”

“Over the last 18 months,” the report said, “Murray’s Nevada medical practice, Global Cardiovascular Associates, has been slapped with more than $400,000 in court judgments: $228,000 to Citicorp Vendor Finance, $71,000 to an education loan company and $135,000 to a leasing company. He faces at least two other pending cases.”

“Court records show that Murray was hit with a nearly $3,700 judgment in December for failure to pay child support in San Diego, and had his wages garnished the same month for almost $1,500 by a credit card company,” the AP wrote. “Another credit card claim for more than $1,100 filed in April remains open.”

“He also owes $940 in fines and penalties for driving with an expired license plate and for not having proof of insurance in 2000,” the AP reported.

Filed under: 2009, Michael Jackson

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