Tag Archives: michael jackson

The Best and Worst Doctors of 2011,part 1

Couldn’t help recalling that last year, quite a number of physicians made the headlines..so here’s my list of the Dr Jekylls and Dr Hydes of 2011.

The Worst Doctors

1. Conrad Murray,MD

Physician to the King of Pop.. in November he was sentenced to 4 years in jail for his conviction on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the pop star’s death. There wasn’t much substance in his defence once he admitted to using propafol injected intravenously into Michael Jackson’s veins so as to enable him to sleep at home. What was worse was that this drug is normally used in a hospital setting with the patient hooked on close monitors; using it otherwise (at home) constitutes negligence and inappropriate use.

2. Gerald J Klein, MD

Gerald who? Well, he was one of 14 Florida doctors indicted in August 2011 for illegally distributing opioid analgesics such as oxycodone and sedatives like Xanax. Drug addicts and dealers would queue in their clinics to sell or receive drugs illegally under the pretext of valid medical reasons. Opioid analgesics were dispensed and prescribed on an assembly line basis,  paid for with cash and credit cards. Clinic employees hauled their money to the bank in large garbage bags. This way, each doctor netted USD 1 million yearly. “Drug dealers in white coats”, said the FBI.Read more here.

Dr Gerald Klein..described as a drug dealer in a white coat

3. John R McLean,MD and others

The Maryland cardiologist was convicted on 6 charges of healthcare fraud relating to insurance claims that he had filed for doing unnecessary coronary angiograms and angioplasties (invasive test and treatment of blocked heart arteries), as well as for ordering unnecessary tests and making false entries in patient medical records. In November, Dr. McLean was sentenced to 8 years in jail.

The buck does not stop here in Maryland – already two other cases are being heard (see here and here) of similar cases where cardiologists have done unnecessary procedures on otherwise well patients, in return for unethical financial rewards.

In the next blog entry, I will name the best doctors of 2011.

Deaths of Rock Stars – Learning From Their Mistakes

With the sad untimely death of Amy Winehouse, questions are yet again being asked why rock stars have a penchant to be associated with a death wish in conjunction with drugs. She joins a long line of celebrities.. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison(the Doors), Ron McKernan (the Grateful Dead) who all died due to drugs at the age of 27 strangely enough (the 27 Club). Add to this Michael Jackson, of course.

Could drugs be the cause of death for Amy Winehouse?

Maybe its easier to understand why these celebrities take to drugs..as an escape from stress, as performance enhancers to keep up to fans’ expectations and also to enforce sleep when the mind doesn’t want to switch off.

Quite often these drugs gradually lose their effect once taken over long periods, thus necessitating higher and higher doses, which can lead to overdosage. But yet, this does not seem to be the case in some  instances.

Propofol, a common anaesthetic used in hospitals, gained notoriety when it was blamed for MJ's death

On the other hand, there are cases where there has been untoward drug interactions when many prescription drugs with similar actions are taken concurrently. In other words, therapeutic doses of several prescription drugs, usually pain-killers and sleeping pills, had been taken at about the same time, creating a deadly mixture due to chemical interaction. Such was the case with Michael Jackson, where propofol, lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Dormicum) and diazepam (Valium) were found at autopsy amongst others.

Here are what I see are some of the  mistakes that occurred and the measures that can be taken:

  • Usage of several painkillers in an attempt to get fast relief –  people with long-term pain like backache may resort to increasingly stronger medications as the body gets used  to them. In MJ’s case, it has been reported that he had been on oxyContin (an addicting painkiller derived from narcotics) for many years and had received pethidine (another narcotic painkiller) at the same time. The false and wrong rationale is usually that the more one takes, the better for fast pain relief.
  • Taking a cocktail of sleeping pills to ‘knock off’ – expecting a sleeping pill to work immediately can lead some people to erroneously take ‘more of the same or similar’ in an attempt to induce sleep quickly and perhaps get rid of unpleasant memories of the day. This is compounded when alcohol had been taken as it is a brain “downer”, just like sleeping pills. The combined effects of these pills and alcohol will suppress the brain from allowing the lungs to breathe. Never mix sleeping pills, sedatives, tranquillizers or take them with alcohol.
  • Alcohol does not jive with many medications – together with sleeping pills and cold medications, even some antibiotics (eg Bactrim, Flagyl) can cause unpleasant reactions.
  • Using many doctors or pharmacies – when visiting multiple doctors, bring along the list of medications in your possession so that there is no inadvertent cross-reactions. Similarly, using only one pharmacy enables screening with existing medications to prevent harmful drug interactions.


Brittany Murphy..Another Drug Casualty

When the news broke Dec 20 that a previously-healthy 32 year-old actress collapsed in the bathroom apparently of “a heart attack”, quite a few observers (me included) immediately targeted prescription drugs as a cause for her death.

Latest revelations by TMZ reveal that paramedics found several drugs in her bedroom: Topamax (anti-seizure meds also to prevent migraines), Methylprednisolone (anti-inflammatory), Fluoxetine (depression med), Klonopin (anxiety med), Carbamazepine (presumably for migraine headaches), Ativan (anxiety med), Vicoprofen (pain reliever), Propranolol (for migraine), Biaxin (antibiotic), Hydrocodone (pain med) and miscellaneous vitamins.

Brittany Murphy, in June 2009, compared with an earlier pic below, gave vent to rumors she was suffering from anorexia

I had earlier posted an article here explaining the common denominator between celebrities like Anna Nicole-Smith, Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson. All three had succumbed to untoward drug interactions where many prescription drugs with similar actions are taken concurrently. The thing to note is that there need not  necessarily be an overdosage of any particular drug . Sometimes normal dosages, when taken at the same time, create a cascading effect and  cause these untoward effects aka drug interactions aka drug toxicity.

Why do such tragic consequences happen?


  1. Usage of several painkillers in an attempt to get fast relief –  people with long-term pain like headaches may resort to increasingly stronger medications as the body gets used  to them. In Brittany’s case, the leaked coroner’s report revealed she was apparently on several painkillers presumably for migraine:  carbamazepine, vicoprofen and hydrocodone ( a synthetic narcotic). The false and wrong rationale is usually that the more one takes, the better for fast pain relief.
  2. Taking a cocktail of sleeping pills to ‘knock off’ – expecting a sleeping pill to work immediately can lead some people to erroneously take ‘more of the same or similar’ in an attempt to induce sleep quickly and perhaps get rid of unpleasant memories of the day. This is compounded when alcohol had been taken as it is a brain “downer”, just like sleeping pills. The combined effects of these pills and alcohol will suppress the brain from allowing the lungs to breathe. Never mix sleeping pills, sedatives, tranquillizers or take them with alcohol.
  3. Alcohol does not jive with many medications – apart from sleeping pills and cold medications, even some antibiotics (eg Bactrim, Flagyl) can cause unpleasant reactions.
  4. Using many doctors or pharmacies – when visiting multiple doctors, it is important tobring along the list of medications in one’s possession so that there is no inadvertent cross-reactions. Similarly, using only one pharmacy enables screening with existing medications to prevent harmful drug interactions.


Death of The Stars..Learning From Their Mistakes

michaeljackson2

In my previous posting, I alluded to the possibility that Michael Jackson’s death could be due to the potentiating effects of several opiate prescription drugs like oxyContin & pethidine. We will know for sure whether this is the case, in a few weeks when the toxicology results are announced.

heathledger2In the case of Heath Ledger, who died at 42, the coroner found six different tranquillisers & opiate pain-killers in his tissues and concluded that accidental overdose was the cause of death. The prescription drugs found included OxyContin, hydrocodone, diazepam (Valium), temazepam (Normison, for sleep), alprezolam (Xanax,for anti-anxiety) and doxylamine (available over-the-counter as Somnil for aiding sleep).

annanicolesmithAnother case in point is that of Anna Nicole Smith, who died aged 39 in early 2007 due to massive doses of a sedative chloral hydrate together with at least 9 other tranquillizers that included Valium, Ativan and Rivotril.

The common denominator in all the three above cases (assuming MJ’s results are confirmed) is that there has been untoward drug interactions where many prescription drugs with similar actions are taken concurrently. The thing to note is that there need not  necessarily be a overdosage of any particular drug – sometimes normal dosages, when taken at the same time, create a cascading effect and  cause these untoward effects aka drug interactions aka drug toxicity.

Here are some common mistakes that can be avoided:

  1. Usage of several painkillers in an attempt to get fast relief –  people with long-term pain like backache may resort to increasingly stronger medications as the body gets used  to them. In MJ’s case, it has been reported that he had been on oxyContin (an addicting painkiller derived from narcotics) for many years and had received pethidine (another narcotic painkiller) at the same time. The false and wrong rationale is usually that the more one takes, the better for fast pain relief.
  2. Taking a cocktail of sleeping pills to ‘knock off’ – expecting a sleeping pill to work immediately can lead some people to erroneously take ‘more of the same or similar’ in an attempt to induce sleep quickly and perhaps get rid of unpleasant memories of the day. This is compounded when alcohol had been taken as it is a brain “downer”, just like sleeping pills. The combined effects of these pills and alcohol will suppress the brain from allowing the lungs to breathe. Never mix sleeping pills, sedatives, tranquillizers or take them with alcohol.
  3. Alcohol does not jive with many medications – apart from sleeping pills and cold medications, even some antibiotics (eg Bactrim, Flagyl) can cause unpleasant reactions.
  4. Using many doctors or pharmacies – when visiting multiple doctors, bring along the list of medications in your possession so that there is no inadvertent cross-reactions. Similarly, using only one pharmacy enables screening with existing medications to prevent harmful drug interactions.


Share this Post

%d bloggers like this: