Jackson, Gans, Demerol, and Dilaudid: Did Rx Painkillers Strike Again?

A number of sources are reporting that an injection of a prescription pain killer, Demerol, was administered to Jackson shortly before his cardiac arrest. Demerol is one of several opioid (chemically related to opium) analgesics (painkillers); others include Codeine, Darvocet, Dilaudid and Oxycontin. All are commonly abused drugs.

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If the information about Jackson is true, and an autopsy and toxicologysupport this as a contributing factor in his death, it would be thesecond case in two months in which a celebrity died as a result of usage of this family of prescription drugs. Las Vegas entertainer, Danny Gans, died in his sleep on May 1, 2009. Autopsy findings released on June 9 caused the coroner involved in that case to conclude that the drug Dilaudid caused Mr. Gans’ death. The death was declared accidental because side effects of a normal dose of the drug were toxic due to preexisting heart disease.

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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