Michael Jackson’s death has prompted an extensive investigation into alleged prescription drug abuse by the King of Pop.
Less than two weeks after Michael Jackson’s June 25 sudden death, family, friends and fans around the world prepare to say goodbye. But even as the trailblazing singer was being memorialized for his contributions to the world of music, there were more questions than answers about the true cause of death.
A PUBLIC GOODBYE TO MICHAEL JACKSON
Details of the unparalleled public memorial service to be held at Los Angeles’ Staples Center were closely guarded, but last-minute reports had everyone from Michael’s family members as well as A-list stars like Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, John Mayer and many others in line to perform tributes to the late King of Pop. There was even speculation that Jackson’s oldest child, Prince Michael Jackson, would make his public debut.
Unlike most star-studded shows at Staples Center, you couldn’t buy your way into this event. Free tickets were distributed to 11,000 lucky fans via a lottery with millions more planning to watch on television. A very private family burial is supposedly scheduled to follow at Forest Lawn Cemetery, although details have not been confirmed. Conspicuously absent from the guest list at the public memorial are Jacksons two ex-wives, Debbie Rowe (mother of Jackson’s two eldest children) and Lisa Marie Presley. Longtime friend Elizabeth Taylor has also issued a statement saying she planned to grieve in private, believing it’s what Jackson would have wanted.
QUESTIONS OF PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE
As the media descended to cover the event, questions about the underlying cause of death still abounded. Despite an initial ruling of cardiac arrest, an investigation continues into alleged prescription drug abuse, even as the public memorial service moved forward. Within hours of Jackson’s death, items were removed from the $100,000 per month home he was renting in the upscale Los Angeles neighborhood of Holmby Hills. Bags of prescription medication and medical paraphernalia were among those items, and investigators rushed to question Jackson’s personal doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray. While Dr. Murray is said to be cooperating with authorities, recent reports suggest he isn’t licensed to dispense drugs in the state of California, raising even more questions.
The Drug Enforcement Agency and California Attorney General have joined the investigation and are looking into five different doctors they suspect of providing Jackson with prescription drugs. There are also reports that many of the prescription medications found in Jackson’s home following his death were obtained under aliases while other bottles contained no labels or names at all. Toxicology reports will take weeks, but they should shed light on what drugs were in Jackson’s system at the time of his death.
For more information on prescription drug abuse, check out http://www.samhsa.gov/, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration website.
MICHAEL JACKSON AND DIPRIVAN
One drug that keeps cropping up in news reports of Jackson’s death is Diprivan, described as a powerful IV anesthetic that sedates the patient. Not regularly available outside a hospital, the drug is usually given to patients undergoing surgical or diagnostic procedures. Various medical professionals have reported that Jackson requested the powerful drug for his chronic insomnia. There has been no confirmation by investigators that Jackson was using Diprivan prior to his death, but experts are quick to point out that the drug is not approved for treating sleep disorders.
According to CNN.com, “the principle risks of Diprivan come from improper monitoring of the patient's breathing,” adding that “when a person's breathing slows down, not enough carbon dioxide gets removed from the body, and not enough oxygen enters. This could lead to cardiac arrest.” There can also be complications from Diprivan interacting with other prescription medications.
In October 2008, Minnesota’s renowned Mayo Clinic issued results from a study that linked Diprivan to cardiac arrest. See the full Mayo Clinic report here: http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/4112.
JACKSON’S LEGACY AND LEGAL ISSUES
While Jackson is finally laid to rest, his legacy will continue to be debated for years to come. With so much money at stake, the battle over his estate and who will raise his three children won’t be settled quickly either. He was undoubtedly one of the most notable performers of his time, but will his legacy also contain the specter of prescription drug abuse as well? Like so many celebrities before him, did Jackson find that his fame and fortune couldn’t protect him from addiction? Only time – and the toxicology reports -- will tell.