LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A physician with a background in drug addiction testified today that Michael Jackson had a “grave prognosis” in terms of life expectancy because of his use of three categories of drugs prior to his death.
Dr. Paul Earley said the interactions of propofol, opioids and benzodiazapines gave Jackson an outlook for a shorter life span, although he did not give a percentage.
He said Jackson was a victim of inappropriate use of propofol, a powerful anesthetic he used as a sleep aid; was dependent upon opioids like the pain medication Demerol for the last 16 years of his life; and had obstacles to a successful recovery that resulted in several failed rehabilitation attempts.
Examples of benzodiazapines include Valium, Ambien and Xanax.
“All of the data points to the fact his prognosis was grave,” Earley said.
Katherine Jackson filed suit in September 2010 on behalf of herself and her late son’s three children, alleging that “This Is It” tour promoter AEG Live hired Dr. Conrad Murray to care for the singer and failed to supervise him properly.
AEG Live attorneys maintain that Jackson hired Murray in 2006 as his personal physician and chose him to be his doctor during 50 sold-out concert dates at London’s O2 Arena as part of an independent contractor arrangement.
Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s June 25, 2009, drug overdose death and sentenced to four years in jail. The doctor intravenously administered propofol to the singer, who was living in a rented Holmby Hills home while rehearsing for the tour.
Earley, testifying on behalf of AEG Live as trial of the suit began its 19th week in Los Angeles Superior Court, said under questioning by attorney Kathryn Cahan that he spent numerous hours studying the depositions of both lay people and professionals connected with the case.
He said the depositions he perused ranged from those of Katherine and Prince Jackson — the late singer’s oldest son — and Jackson’s ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, to other doctors who have given opinions regarding the singer’s drug addictions.
Propofol is not dangerous if used properly, Earley said.
“When used in a proper setting, propofol is a safe drug,” he said.
But Jackson’s demands for propofol increased dramatically in 2009 as he was preparing for the tour, Earley said
“He was going from place to place requesting propofol,” Earley testified.
The singer ultimately received the drug from Murray, who unwisely administered the anesthetic in the singer’s own home rather than in the proper medical setting, Earley said.
“Each time it’s like playing Russian roulette,” he said.
Earley said he does not like to use the word “blame” when describing an addict’s choices, but instead believes someone in that position should take responsibility for his or her conduct and recovery.
In August 2009, two months after Jackson’s death at age 50, Earley posted an article titled “Michael Jackson: Addition in the Privileged.”
He wrote, “The death of Michael Jackson underscores one of the tragedies of our culture: if you have an addictive disease, have sufficient funds and are protected from negative consequences of your addiction, you die.”
Bill Hetherman | City News Service