Jackson doctor denies drug link

A dermatologist linked to the investigation into Michael Jackson’s death on Wednesday denied giving the star dangerous drugs as mystery shrouded the King of Pop’s final resting place.

As the dust settled on an emotion-filled Los Angeles memorial watched by up to one billion fans worldwide according to some estimates, attention returned to the role of drugs in Jackson’s tragic demise.

Investigators are reportedly looking into five doctors who treated the superstar in the past and have zeroed in on a powerful sedative—Diprivan—discovered at Jackson’s rented mansion after his death.

Diprivan is commonly used to induce unconsciousness in hospital patients ahead of major surgery and experts say it should only be administered by a trained anaesthesiologist.

Jackson’s long-time dermatologist, Arnold Klein, on Wednesday denied he was the source of the drugs found but said he had often been concerned that other medical professionals were supplying the singer with medications.

“I didn’t give him this crap that they’re talking about,” he told ABC television’s Good Morning America. “How am I going to prescribe Diprivan when I don’t understand how to use it?”

However, Klein later told CNN in an interview he had been aware that Jackson had used Diprivan in the past.

“I knew at one point he was using Diprivan when he was on tour in Germany,” he said. “He was using it with an anaesthesiologist to go to sleep at night and I told him he was absolutely insane.”

Klein, who said he treated Jackson three days before his mysterious death on June 25 at age 50, believes that any doctor found to have supplied the star with drugs should be prosecuted.

“I say that anyone who makes someone an addict or gives a person potentially dangerous substances directly to them to use, like propofol, is a criminal,” Klein told ABC, referring to the generic name for Diprivan.

Klein revealed that Jackson appeared to be in good health a few days before his death.
“He was not in terrible pain when I saw him. He danced in the office. He was very happy and dancing,” he said.

“I saw nothing at that point in time that would make me worry whatsoever, but I always was concerned about him because I always worried about other doctors,” Klein said.

“Here’s the problem with Michael: no matter what he wanted, someone would give it to him,” added Klein.

Klein gave a cagey denial when questioned on CNN about a report that he was the biological father of Jackson’s two eldest children with ex-wife Debbie Rowe. “To the best of my knowledge, I’m not the father,” he said.

Star-studded but sombre send-off
Meanwhile, unidentified sources close to the investigation told CNN and ABC on Wednesday that Jackson’s body had been riddled with needle marks and collapsed veins consistent with intravenous use of a drug like Diprivan.

The Los Angeles coroner’s office has said no final cause of death will be revealed until results of exhaustive toxicology tests are confirmed in the next four weeks.

A gold-plated coffin bearing Jackson’s body took centre stage at a star-studded but sombre send-off at the Staples Centre on Tuesday.

However, the whereabouts of Jackson’s body remained a closely guarded secret on Wednesday, with uncertainty likely to fuel speculation that the singer’s remains may yet end up at his beloved Neverland Ranch north-west of Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times reported on its website that the body was in safekeeping and no final decision had been made about a time or place for burial.

Jackson’s daughter Paris (11) grabbed international attention with her heartbreaking comments at her father’s memorial on Tuesday.

“Ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just wanted to say I love him so much,” Paris said before dissolving into tears and being comforted by Jackson’s family.

Television ratings released on Wednesday by media group Nielsen revealed 31,1-million Americans tuned in for the memorial, making it the third-most watched funeral in US history.

Only the funerals of former President Ronald Reagan in 2004, seen by 35-million, and Princess Diana in 1997, (33,2-million) attracted higher numbers.

Jackson sold more than 750-million albums during a four-decade career that was tainted by repeated allegations of child abuse, his startling physical transformation and his eccentric behaviour.—AFP

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