LOS ANGELES: Michael Jackson was likely addicted to a painkiller given by a dermatologist in the months before his death, according to a witness called by lawyers on October 27.
Attorneys for Conrad Murray are making a last-ditch bid to persuade jurors that Jackson’s doctor is not guilty of involuntary manslaughter over his 2009 death. Addiction specialist Robert Waldman testified that Jackson was probably addicted to the painkiller Demerol, prescribed by Beverly Hills skin doctor Arnold Klein, who Jackson saw several times a week before he died. “My opinion is that he was probably addicted to opioids,” said Waldman, noting that withdrawal symptoms from Demerol include insomnia — Jackson was suffering from sleeplessness when he died from an overdose of powerful sedatives.
The addiction expert was called to testify by Murray’s lawyer Ed Chernoff, who presented medical records subpoenaed from the office of Klein — who has been mentioned before in the five-week trial but was not called as a witness.
The records showed Jackson being treated with increasing doses of Demerol at sessions from April to June in 2009, to ease the pain when he was being given Botox and other similar wrinkle-busting injections.
The addiction specialist stressed the difference between drug addiction and dependency — addiction is a repetitive behavior, while dependency is a physical need for a substance.
On October 27, a nurse, who treated the singer recalled how he begged to be given a propofol drip two months before he died, saying medics had assured him it was safe. On October 26, a string of former patients of Murray praised his ‘caring’ attitude and denied that he was greedy for the $150,000 a month salary he was being paid by Jackson. Murray faces up to four years in jail if found guilty by the seven-man, five-woman jury.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2011.