The Michael Jackson Trial

I was not going to comment on the case against Michael Jackson’s physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. I wasn’t even planning on reading about it. But in the end, I couldn’t resist – I know this area of medicine too well. I conducted some of the initial studies that led to the US approval of propofol, the drug Jackson overdosed on. I took part in many other studies on the drug as well, looking into its side effects and benefits. And so I have to share this information with you. I’ll try to blog about this case on alternate days (follow @youngdrmike on Twitter, where I’ll post anything related to this or other top medical stories of the week).

I was not going to comment on the case against Michael Jackson’s physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. I wasn’t even planning on reading about it. But in the end, I couldn’t resist – I know this area of medicine too well. I conducted some of the initial studies that led to the US approval of propofol, the drug Jackson overdosed on. I took part in many other studies on the drug as well, looking into its side effects and benefits. And so I have to share this information with you.  I’ll try to blog about this case on alternate days (follow @youngdrmike on Twitter, where I’ll post anything related to this or other top medical stories of the week). 

The prosecution claims Michael Jackson was overdosed and killed by a negligent Dr. Murray. The defense says that Jackson, who was addicted to prescription medications, self-injected an amount of propofol that would kill anyone, and that Murray had no way to save him. Both scenarios are plausible. Now we need the evidence.  


My friend Dr. Paul White, an anesthesiologist who is as solid on the science of propofol as anyone, is an expert witness for the defense. I haven’t spoken to Dr. White about the testimony he plans to give – or about the trial at all. But soon he may be asked for his professional opinion in the courtroom, and it seems that he’s prepared to say that Murray did not cause Jackson’s death. Even knowing that, I’ll be amazed if Dr. White thinks that Murray provided proper care when administering propofol. How the heck did Jackson die then, Paul? And what about the fact that Jackson was combining propofol with other prescription drugs? Darn it, Paul – now I’ve got to spend some time paying attention to this case.

I’ll be watching the grilling Dr. White receives from the prosecutors. I want to learn how much he knows, and I want to see how he supports the defense’s contention that Murray's actions in no way contributed negligently to the death of Michael Jackson. 

Your Parent Has Dementia: What to Talk to Their Doctor About

Make sure all their doctors are aware of all the medications she is taking.

Q: My mom is 94 and has dementia. She is taking a whole medicine cabinet-full of medications and I think they actually make her fuzzier. How should I talk to her various doctors about what she is taking and if she can get off some of the meds? — Gary R., Denver, Colorado

A: Many dementia patients are taking what docs call a "polypharmacy" — three or more medications that affect their central nervous system. And we really don't know how that mixture truly affects each individual person.

A new study in JAMA Network that looked at more than 1 million Medicare patients found almost 14% of them were taking a potentially harmful mix of antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiepileptics, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Ativan, nonbenzodiazepine benzodiazepine receptor agonist hypnotics such as Ambien or Sonata, and opioids. And almost a third of those folks were taking five or more such medications. The most common medication combination included an antidepressant, an antiepileptic, and an antipsychotic. Gabapentin was the most common medication — often for off-label uses, such as to ease chronic pain or treat psychiatric disorders, according to the researchers from the University of Michigan.

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