Michael Jackson, A Victim of Radio Medicine

Michael Jackson, A Victim of Radio Medicine

The Novus newsletter this week was intended to be about how to test and treat the adrenal gland. However, the tragic death of Michael Jackson has shown the nation a very public and dramatic example of the consequences of Radio Medicine and the risks of prescription drugs. Next week we will pick up with the final installment on the adrenals. A Radio Medicine doctor, instead of finding the source of the physiological problem, prescribes a drug that hides or suppresses the symptoms - like turning up the volume on the radio instead of pulling over to find the source of that annoying noise your car is making.

To continue that analogy, if you lower the volume by taking the person off the drug, the original condition is now manifesting itself again and is probably worse than it was when you started taking the drugs. Just like your car, your body is breaking down because of a long term and unhandled condition. One of the myths concerning prescription drug-related deaths is that the people who died were all abusing the drugs. While this is certainly true in many cases, even many of these victims were started on the path to abuse by Radio Medicine doctors, and many other victims of Radio Medicine were taking the drugs as prescribed when they died. The suffering of most families losing a loved one to prescription drugs is not the subject of media attention. The death may be mentioned in the local newspaper, but it has become so common that in many parts of our nation, it gets no press coverage at all—unless it is a celebrity like Michael Jackson.


    • “Aren't these drugs legal?”
    • “Why would a doctor prescribe prescription drugs that are this dangerous?”
    • “Why didn't the doctor warn us that there could be these side effects?”
    • “Isn't the FDA supposed to protect us from damaging drugs?”
    • “Why didn't someone help?”
  • “Well, these drugs normally don't cause death.”
  • “Look, this is the accepted treatment.”
  • “You didn't ask me about all the possible side effects.”
  • “I don't have time to explain every possible side effect.”
  • “The FDA has approved this drug.”
  • “There is a label that explains everything with each prescription. Didn't you read the label?”
  • “There must have been a mistake in the way he or she took the pills.”
  • “Are you sure that he or she was not abusing the drug?”
  • “I am sorry for your loss.”
  • “I practice Radio Medicine and am more concerned with blocking out the symptoms than in finding the cause of the person's problems because then the patient will not complain about me not handling the problem.”
  • “Look, I have to see a patient every five minutes or I won't be able to stay in business.”
  • “I don't have time to read the drug labels.”
  • “Most of my information on the drugs came from a doctor paid by a drug company to speak at a dinner paid for by the drug company.”
  • “I heard about the drugs when attending a continuing education class conducted by a doctor paid by the drug company and the costs of my class were paid for by a drug company.”
  • “I don't have time to do any study of my own, but the drug representative is a good person and I trust what he told me about the drug's safety and effectiveness.”
  • “If I increase the prescriptions for a particular drug, the drug company representative will ensure that I get rewarded.”
  • “I didn't realize that the one drug would interfere with the metabolism of the other drugs they are taking. I hope that the family doesn't find out.


Michael Jackson's autopsy report indicated, “The cause of death has been deferred." The coroner had not found any "...indication of any external trauma or indication of foul play on the body." The coroner said that no cause of death could be determined until the toxicology report that will analyze the drugs in Mr. Jackson's body is received. While the toxicology reports and the information gathered by the police will show more, here are some things that are being reported about Michael Jackson's drug history:

  • In court papers filed in Jackson’s 2004 case, there was testimony that he was “taking ten-plus Xanax pills a night.
  • In the 2003 police raid of his home, Vicodin, OxyContin, Versed (a sedative, anxiety, and anesthesia medication), Xanax and Valium were found.
  • The Times of London reported that Grace Rwaramba, who worked with him for 17 years, saw repeated instances of his prescription drug abuse.
  • There are reports that he was taking at least three narcotics — Demerol, Dilaudid and Vicodin - at the same time, and apparently he also was taking OxyContin from time to time.
  • Several people have said he was injected three times a day with Demerol—the last injection reportedly one hour before he collapsed.
  • He was also taking Soma (a muscle relaxant), Xanax and Zoloft.
  • In an interview, Dr. Douglas Zipes, a cardiologist at Indiana University and past president of the American College of Cardiology, said that Demerol can also cause a sudden stoppage of the heart in patients who are dehydrated. (Jackson had just finished an exhaustive rehearsal right before he collapsed.
  • At 5'10” and under 120 pounds, needle marks were found on his hips, thighs and shoulders but there is no evidence of street drug use.

Michael Jackson unfortunately follows in the path of other celebrities whose deaths have been attributed to prescription drug overdoses. Heath Ledger was taking Xanax, Valium, OxyContin and Restoril when he died. Anna Nicole Smith's autopsy and toxicology revealed she had Valium, Ativan and another nine prescription drugs in her system when she died.


Apparently for a number of years, Michael Jackson was suffering from pain caused by injuries. Rather than address the actual cause of the pain, he was apparently given narcotics. We don't know that a doctor didn't try to address the actual cause, but we do know that prescribing narcotics to block the symptoms does not address the cause. In fact, for a performer like Michael Jackson, not feeling the pain probably led him to further injure his body because he was unable to sense the normal pain signals when he was doing his physically strenuous shows. We also know that overdoses of narcotics can cause the heart to stop. The following is an excerpt from the Demerol label: Symptoms: In severe overdosage, particularly by the intravenous route, ...cardiac arrest, and death may occur.


Apparently, Michael Jackson was taking more and more narcotics because his pain just kept increasing. This is what happens when many physiological problems are untreated, but there is another reason that probably was a major factor in his use of narcotics. It is known that the use of opioids like Dilaudid, Vicodin, OxyContin and Demerol will often make the pain receptors more sensitive to pain and actually increase the amount of pain a person is feeling. This is called opioid-induced hyperalgesia and was discussed in one of our newsletters. If he took more narcotics, it might temporarily ease his pain, but then he would experience opioid-induced hyperalgesia and the pain would increase. Then he takes more narcotics and the pain increases until he takes so many narcotics that a vital organ of the body just shuts down.


Readers of our newsletters will know that there are many physiological causes that can cause anxiety, depression and fatigue. We also know that for a person like Michael Jackson, hopelessly in debt and knowing that his deteriorating physical condition will severely limit his ability to do concerts that will generate the money he needs to keep from bankruptcy, it is normal to be anxious and depressed. The Radio Medicine solution—don't diagnose and find the cause but treat the symptoms. This is why he was prescribed benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium, antipsychotics like Seroquel and Zyprexa and antidepressants like Zoloft and Paxil to make him numb and insensitive to anxiety and depression.


While we know the side effects of antidepressants and antipsychotics can be life threatening, a recently released report shows more of the damage that can be done by Radio Medicine. The report that was presented at the May 2009 Heart Rhythm Society annual meeting in Boston by Dr. Jussi Honkola, and Dr. Robert A. Harrington, professor of medicine, Division of Cardiology, director, Duke Clinical Research Institute, presented some very disturbing information about antidepressants. The doctors were researching cardiac death. Of course, anything that stops the normal functioning of the heart can lead to death, but most often there is prior evidence of problems—like clogged arteries or other abnormalities of the heart. The phrase “cardiac death” normally describes the sudden and often unexpected death of someone after their heart stops working normally. In the press release describing his study, Dr. Honkola said, "Despite many years of intensive research we still don't know how to identify people who are at risk for sudden cardiac death." The study looked at 321 victims of cardiac death and 609 patients who survived heart attacks. They compared the medications taken by each group and the results were alarming but not surprising to those of us who deal with the problems caused by psychotropic drugs.

The study found:

  • 11 percent of those who suffered sudden cardiac death took antipsychotics compared to 1.4 percent of those who survived heart attacks;
  • 7.4 percent of those who suffered sudden cardiac death took antidepressants (Paxil, Zoloft, etc.) compared to 3 percent of those who survived heart attacks;
  • 18.4 percent of those who suffered sudden cardiac death took benzodiazepines (like Xanax and Ativan) compared to 5 percent of those who survived heart attacks.


We don’t know what led to Michael Jackson's death and may not ever know conclusively. However, we do know that the Radio Medicine treatment of Mr. Jackson was unconscionable. We know that his doctors should have known about the risks of his treatments. We know that the abuse of narcotics is rapidly increasing. The DEA released a report showing that the non-medical use of prescription drugs is a serious threat to public health and safety, with unintentional deaths involving prescription opioids increasing 114 percent from 2001 to 2005, and treatment admissions increasing 74 percent in a similar four-year period. We hope that the publicity coming from this unfortunate death will result in people demanding real medical care and not Radio Medicine care. At Novus Medical Detox Center, we are proud that we are able to help people escape from the trap of prescription drugs like OxyContin, Demerol, Vicodin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, Xanax, Ativan and other psychotropic drugs like Paxil, Zoloft, Seroquel and Zyprexa. If you know of someone who needs help please give us a call.

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