Prescription drug abuse is a huge problem in Hollywood.
The circumstances surrounding White’s death have all the earmarks of potential criminal case against Carrey and the unnamed doctor. But if past cases are any indication, neither Carrey nor the doctor will face charges.
More people die from prescription drug overdoses than car wrecks, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. More than half of the 41,000 deaths from drugs in 2012 involved prescription drugs, according to federal statistics.
In California, prescription drug deaths increased by 16.5 percent between 2006 and 2012, according to CDC figures. Nearly three-quarters of overdose deaths involved prescription downers.
In Hollywood, prescription drug abuse is epidemic, especially among celebrities.
They seem to have little problem finding doctors willing to prescribe drugs under aliases. In some cases celebs have a virtual pharmacopoeia available to them from multiple feel-good doctors.
Even so, it’s clearly illegal.
Prescription fraud in California is punishable by up to one year in county jail, while felony prescription fraud carries a potential of 16 months to three years in jail. Doctors convicted of prescription fraud could lose their professional license.
The fact that Carrey obtained drugs under an alias is a clear violation of the law, according to legal sources.
Drugs typically involved in prescription fraud include Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Morphine, Oxycodone, Xanax, Valium, Adderall and Ritalin.
White was found dead at her California home Monday night (Sept. 28). Although officials have yet to complete a toxicology report, Carrey’s ex reportedly took a cocktail of Propranolol, Ambien and Percocet, according to gossip site TMZ. All were prescribed to Carrey.
All of the drugs were prescribed by the same doctor, according to the site.
Officials have periodically cracked down on celebrity prescription fraud.
In 2010, Anna Nicole Smith’s psychiatrist, Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and lawyer-boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, were convicted of using false names to obtain drug prescriptions for her, according to reports.
Smith died from a prescription drug overdose in 2007.
The conviction, however, was so rare, defense lawyer Harland Braun called the prosecution and verdict a “shocker.”
Celebrities often argue that they need to use aliases to protect their privacy. But often, aliases are also used to get several prescriptions of the same drug from one or more doctors.
Michael Jackson, who died of a drug overdose, obtained drugs under several aliases, including his personal chef, son Prince Michael, a personal assistant, novelist Jack London and 1930s entertainer Josephine Baker, according to press reports.
The doctor in the Jackson case was not charged with writing a prescription under false pretenses.
Britney Spears and Mariah Carey have also been known to use aliases when undergoing treatment at UCLA Medical Center, according to court testimony at the trial of Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray.
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s drug stash rivaled Jackson’s. He died of an overdose last year. Heroin, methamphetamine and prescription drugs were found next to his body.
Actress Brittany Murphy died in December 2009. Prescriptions were found at her bedside in the name mother Sharon Murphy, husband Simon Monjack and several other aliases. They included pain killers and anti-anxiety drugs.
Actor Heath Ledger died in 2008 from a powerful cocktail of prescription painkillers, anxiety drugs and sleeping pills in a combination that no single physician could have reasonably prescribed, according to authorities quoted by ABC News.
If press reports are true, Carrey also possessed drugs, which he gave to his girlfriend, in a combination that no ethical doctor would prescribe. But don’t hold your breath waiting for him, or the doctor, to be prosecuted.
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