Michael Jackson's doctor faced mounting scrutiny yesterday after a pharmacist said he had ordered over 250 vials of a powerful sedative in the two months before the star's 2009 overdose death.
Pharmacist Tim Lopez said Conrad Murray, on trial for involuntary manslaughter, never told him he was Jackson's personal physician and did not say who the sedative, known as propofol, was for. Murray placed the orders for the drug, and a number of other medications including a skin-whitening cream, with his company Applied Pharmacy Services, Lopez told the Los Angeles Superior Court.
"He asked me specifically to find pricing and availability of propofol and normal saline IV bags," he said, before detailing a string of orders from April to June which included 255 vials of propofol, or several gallons of the drug. He also said Murray did not tell him that the address to which he was shipping the orders was not a Los Angeles clinic he ran, as suggested, but was the apartment of his mistress in Santa Monica.
Murray went on trial last week over the singer's death, accused of administering an overdose of the powerful sedative propofol while trying to help Jackson for insomnia.Jackson was rehearsing for a series of comeback shows in London when he died on June 25, 2009, at his rented Holmby Hills mansion. Murray's lawyers claim the star took extra doses of medicine while the doctor was out of the room.
Earlier yesterday a cocktail waitress and friend of Murray, Sade Anding, recounted how she heard mumbling and coughing while on the phone to him at around the time the singer was dying (see box alongside). The court also heard from Nicole Alvarez, who was living with Murray and had a son by him in March 2009 and still lives with him in her apartment in Santa Monica.
Alvarez, a 29-year-old actress who met Murray in a club in Las Vegas in 2005, described how Murray would routinely leave at around 9pm to look after Jackson and return the next morning. The trial has heard testimony about how the 58-year-old medic would stay at Jackson's mansion overnight to care for the singer, who was also regularly seeing a dermatologist and was found to be on a cock tail of drugs when he died.
Also, two emergency room doctors a day earlier had testified that Jackson was clinically dead when he arrived at their hospital and they thought it was a futile to attempt to revive him. Murray, however, insisted that they try. Both doctors said Murray failed to tell them that he had been giving Jackson propofol or when Jackson had been medicated or stopped breathing.
"He said he did not have any concept of time, that he did not have a watch," said Dr. Thao Nguyen, a cardiologist at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center where Jackson was taken on June 25, 2009.
"Dr Murray asked that we not give up easily and try to save Michael Jackson's life," she said. "... In Dr Murray's mind, if we called it quits, we would be giving up easily."
Nguyen said Murray "sounded desperate and he looked devastated." But, she said, without knowing how much time had passed since he stopped breathing, resuscitation was a remote hope.
"It was not too little too late," she said. "It was a case of too late. I feared that time was not on Mr Jackson's side."
Authorities say Murray administered the fatal dose and acted recklessly by providing Jackson the drug as a sleep aid at his home when it is supposed to be administered in a hospital. The defense argues that Jackson gave himself an additional dose of the drug when Murray was out of the room. Nguyen and Dr Richelle Cooper, who oversaw Jackson's care in the emergency room, said Murray never mentioned that he had given the singer propofol. They said he told them that he had given two doses of lorazepam, also known as Ativan, trying to get him to sleep.
"Did he ever mention propofol to you?" Deputy District Attorney David Walgren asked Nguyen. "Absolutely not," she said in a firm voice. She said at least three medical personnel, including an anaesthesiologist, should be present when the drug is given. Walgren asked her: "Have you ever heard of propofol being used in someone's private bedroom?"
Nguyen replied: "That would be a first. I've never heard of it."
In cross-examination, defence attorney Michael Flanagan was able to get Cooper to say that, even if they had known about the propofol, they could not have saved Jackson's life.
"Michael Jackson had died long before he became my patient," she said. "It is unlikely with that information I could have done something that would have changed the outcome."
She also said that the amount of propofol which Murray has since claimed he gave Jackson would not have put him to sleep and would have dissipated from his body in five to seven minutes. Murray claimed he administered 25 milligrams. An autopsy showed that he died of an overdose of the drug.