Monday, June 29th, 2009...12:28 am

A Side Effect of Michael Jackson’s Tragic Death – Consumer Health Education

Drugs.com reported a massive 20,900% increase (yes, you read that correctly – twenty thousand, nine hundred percent) in interest for information on the prescription medication Demerol – allegedly prescribed for the legendary entertainer Michael Jackson. More than 135,000 page views were logged on the Drugs.com web site by people researching Demerol this past Friday – the single biggest spike in daily interest for a medication since the similarly tragic and untimely death of Heath Ledger.

Demerol (meperidine) is a narcotic pain relieving medication. It works by dulling the pain perception center in the brain. Interest in the medication exploded from around 650 page views per day on average to 135,164 page views on Friday, June 26.

demerol-graph-2

Aside from the amazing display of near real-time information dissemination triggered by this event, it would seem that recently deceased celebrities are inadvertently responsible for educating others about the potential dangers of prescription medications.

The passing of Heath Ledger and Anna Nicole Smith also led to increased consumer research on medications such as OxyContin, Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Restoril. “We saw huge increases in page views for those medications, but the interest in researching Demerol surpasses anything we have seen before.” said Philip Thornton, CEO of Drugs.com.

While it is yet to be determined whether any prescription medication played a part in Michael Jackson’s tragic passing, the subsequent increased awareness may just help prevent unnecessary deaths due to the misuse of narcotic medications.

About Drugs.com
Drugs.com is the largest and most comprehensive drug information resource on the web with over 5 million unique visitors per month (ComScore, April 09). Providing free, independent, peer-reviewed, objective and up-to-date drug information at both consumer and professional levels, Drugs.com empowers patients and caregivers to take charge of their health and be more informed than ever before. The site includes many interactive tools to assist consumers and healthcare professionals such as a the new Mednotes personal medication records (PMR), a handy pill identification wizard, drug interactions checker and more.

More information at:
http://www.drugs.com and
http://www.drugs.com/demerol.html

17 Comments

  • Janice Reynolds
    June 30th, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Although this article mentions the increased interest in Demerol it only mentions the possible link between presciption opioid use dangers and nothing about the fact that meperadine (Demerol) is uniquely dangereous. Many hospitals have removed it from their formularies or restricted its use. It has a long acting metabolite, normeperadine which does not respond to naloxone. It can cause seizures and cardiac arrhymias. Giving it IM besides causing tissue damage gives an uneven peak. If it was given to Mr. Jackson, this should be the opportunity to take it (and propoxyphene as medication with similar problems) off the market as they are the truely dangerous opioids. General opioid hysteria only serves to deny cancer patients, chronic pain patients, and dying patients addequate pain relief.

  • thank you for the timely cautioning of the side effects of dangerous norcotis

  • I was surprised that nothing was mentioned about
    hallucinations when taking demerol.I had a long stay in the hospital with pancreas trouble and was on Demerol
    most of the time,and had a couple of trips I wouldn’t want to go on again.Thanks

  • Thanks so much for keeping us in touch with current affairs.Its good to know all drugs are poisons especially when misused or wrong dosage is used the good drug can turn out to be fatal.So watch out!

  • I just want to thank you for providing this important information. Were it not for your website I am convinced my husband would have been deceased. We check each and every medicine prescribed by his Doctor to be sure they are not interacting. I feel most people expect too much from their Doctor. They cannot know everything, so we should all take responsibility for our health, etc. and this website helps. Thank you.

  • I never ever post but this time I will. Thanks a lot for the great blog.

  • Great Article and thank you for writing it. I work at a drug rehab facility and I see too many people every day that take medicine that the doc gives them not knowing what they are really taking.

  • Thank you for your site. I was given demerol once when I had to have a large piece of stick removed from my palm.
    When I was taken home I laid down suddenly in the street 3 times before I could get to my house.

  • It is sad that it takes the death of a celebrity to make people aware of the potential of abuse or misuse of opioids or benzos. When everyday, ordinary people OD from them, aside from a small news clip, no one pays attention. I’ve been on opioids since 2005 for chronic back pain that a four level lumbar fusion did not relieve. The initial pain is gone and my spine is stable now, but I was left with post-op pain that left me disabled and having to take opioids around the clock. The publicity about these former stars only hurts those like me and many others who live in constant pain. I’m not bad talking these deceased ones, but money talks, and a lot of “stars or idols” in the world has unlimited access to drugs that they don’t need. There should be the same standard for everyone when it comes to dispensing medications, especially opioids. The rich and famous should not be dispensed meds just because they have tons of MONEY! It took me a year just to get vicoden for my pain. Now, I take methadone and oxycodone for pain, and alprazolam (xanax) for anxiety relief and muscle spasms. And I don’t abuse my meds. I’m not an addict, although I realize that I’m physically dependent on the meds. But there is a difference between the two, addicts take more than they need, if they even need it. Physical dependence is similar to tolerance, it takes more to relieve the pain, and these patients talk to their doctor about it before increasing on their own. Addicts have little or no control over their habit, regardless of the drug that is being abused, including alcohol. I do feel sad for these ones in this condition, because being on drugs all the time isn’t the luxury that some thinks it is. At the pharmacy, a customer was behind me while I was getting my meds, and when he saw the tags on the bag, he told me how “lucky” that I was. That was one of the most ignorant and flat out stupid thing to say to a sick person. I don’t feel “lucky” at all about my illness. The only thing that’s “lucky” about my ordeal is that I’m not an addict. Thanks to the editors of this site for educating those about the dangers of certain drugs, and hopefully, the ones who are really sick will not be deprived because of the actions of a few.

  • Hipolito M. Wiseman
    November 27th, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Michael Jackson was one in a million, he was such a legend in every right. Here’s to hoping his heart and love live on forever. Long live MJ!

  • Great Info. I had a snowboarding accident and was given a Demerol as a pain killer, my collar bone was broken. Demerol definitely come me down.

  • I found your blog on facebook groups. I just added you to my MSN News Reader. Keep up the good work! Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  • Alaine Kilarjian
    July 31st, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Michael Jackson dying was a huge surprise for myself and my family, although in hindsight it was perhaps not so unexpected. The child molestation charges pressed upon him impacted him greatly. As soon as he began to rely on prescription medicines to just get by, that was when there definitely wasn’t going to be a happy ending, IMHO.

  • Hi, Thanks alot for your post. You don’t know how this helped me.

  • Thanks a lot for sharing. The increased awareness of people on this issue is quite encouraging.

  • I believe that is fascinating and do not see posted typically. This really is fantastic details.

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