Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Conrad Murray Rx Problem

While at the courthouse Monday on the case of People v. Conrad Murray, I was blown away by the circus scene.  And these  are  my thoughts -- the native Angeleno who lived here through OJ ...

In a weird way,  it felt sad.  Not sad for Michael Jackson  (it seems that his life was sad and his death was sad - but that isn't the sadness I felt about the courthouse scene) and definitely not sad for Conrad Murray (this guy may be in real trouble -- and because it is a result of his own actions, I can't be sad about that) but sad for the system, the other victims,  and all the other cases where not a single camera or person was there to report.

So why was there such a crowd?  To get a glimpse of the Jackson clan? To heckle Murray in the halls?   To advocate for justice?  In the grand scheme of things  the actual court proceeding wasn’t even that important – basically it was about assigning a court and potentially determining whether Murray’s medical license would be yanked (and yes it should, in my opinion).

But what about those other courtrooms? You know what I am talking about... those other empty courtrooms where justice really needs to be served. I couldn’t believe in this economy and this day and age how many people took time off work, left their kids,  and spent 'vacation time' for this case.  There are hundreds of other cases that need public voices, and this one certainly isn't it.   I just can't believe we are even talking about this ad nauseam when there are such bigger issues that need tackling. And yet there are some really interesting elements to this case (besides the fact that Jackson is the  decedent).

As it stands now, the DA’s evidence against Murray is formidable. The autopsy report, as circumstantial evidence, is “bad.”  In addition, Murray's own confusing accounts of the last hours, not to mention his questionable past, are all stacked against him.

Murray was grossly negligent in failing to have the proper monitoring and life support mechanisms in Michael's home. Even if they had been present, many experts insist that Propofol should never be used outside a fully equipped hospital, or by a doctor who is not an anesthesiologist.  Which leads me to question whether a private doctor, especially a doctor who is retained by a celebrity, can ever practice ethically in the first place.  What I mean is: if Michael was asking for these sedatives and drugs, what was Murray going to do? He was on a monthly retainer. Allegedly he was paid to provide the drugs Michael asked for, right?  Murray probably thought, 'if I don’t give him what he is asking for, someone else will'. Considering Murray's precarious financial situation, by his own accounts, it is not surprising that the events unfolded as they did.

We see many celebrities in Los Angeles who succumb to the temptations of drug use. That is not new, unfortunately. What is new - the phenomenon that doctors are legally prescribing them these medications. Take Corey Haim for example. Haim died recently, March of 2010. LA police said that his death appeared to be accidental and may have been due to an overdose. Four bottles containing Valium, Soma, Vicodin and a muscle relaxant were retrieved  from  his home. But these were later confirmed as prescribed by his doctor!  Haim obtained, in all, 553 prescription pills over the two months before his death, according to Calif. Attorney General Jerry Brown. All prescriptions were legally obtained, according to records. This is outrageous!

So while drug use by famous pop stars and actors is not a new problem, this issue of private doctors going crazy with the Rx pad seems to be. So can we really blame the doctors who are part of the system (probably, yes) … But also we must look at the system itself. Should practicing private medicine (i.e. being on retainer to a wealthy celebrity, politician, etc.) even be legally allowed? Regardless of whether or not Murray is convicted (and the Jackson camp definitely needs a scapegoat on this one) – we must address this larger issue of prescription medication abuses in the medical community.

1 comment:

Cherry said...

Why can't they keep track of dosages of meds? At least via computer at same pharmacy company? And do any of the new HIPAA laws have anything to do with this?