July 9th, 2009
04:47 PM ET
5 years ago

Drug Czar: Michael Jackson death a 'wake-up call'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Director of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske told CNN on Thursday that Michael Jackson's death is a "wake-up call" about prescription drug abuse in America.

"You know, the very sad and untimely loss of Michael Jackson is a wake-up call to the country about prescription drugs," Kerlikowske said in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on 'The Situation Room.' "I really don't know anything more than I have read about this. But if we can save lives and if we can bring to the attention of the people the dangers of prescription drug abuse, I think there is some benefit to this country."

Kerlikowske, who is referred to as the drug czar, said more people die each year from drug overdoses than from gunshot wounds. And he said there are a lot of different problems that contribute to the high fatality numbers. To combat this issue, Kerlikowske said he advocates prescription drug monitoring programs passed by individual states and a media campaign focused on keeping young people off these types of medication.


Filed under: Michael Jackson
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Drug War = War on Americans

    Prescription drugs and tobacco cause far more deaths than from use of illegal narcotics.
    It is time to decriminalize, tax and regulate controlled substances to take away the profits from the cartels and allow U.S. farmers to grow industrial hemp.

    July 9, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Yeah it is a wake up call. Prescription drugs kill and marijuana doesn't!! Chew on that for a while.

    July 9, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Conspicuously absent from the list of drugs which cause these deaths is marijuana (Cannabis). It is now legal to use medcial marijuana in 13 states, with 7 others considering it, and the trend is toward more protection for this healthcare civil right. Thanks for all you do to help.

    July 9, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  4. Brett from Oriskany

    we lock up drug dealers, why don't we lock up the doctor feelgoods who are allowing this to happen. And what of the drug companies who advertise on TV that we need this or that med. We stopped booze and tobacco ads, we need to stop Big Pharma from turning us into a nation of addicts

    July 9, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  5. Tim

    A wake up call to who? The Hollywood elite who can afford to pay for private doctors to prescribe any medication they want?

    Not a concern of mine, let's not waste another second worrying about it.

    July 9, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    Duh - anyone in this country that waited for this in order to be awakened, better just go back to sleep.

    The alarm rang about 30 or 40 years ago.

    July 9, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. Larry

    I like the idea of prescription drug monitoring programs. I thought they were already in place in most states.

    As far as our young people are concerned, it's up to the parents to keep an eye on their prescriptions.

    July 9, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  8. johnnie

    cnn needs a wake call about lou dobbs ,bill bennett,(cnn)has overdosed on these non-factors.(cnn)needs a prescription of new moderators. and (cnn) needs to lay off mj,for ratings and show some of the class they have lost. stop using mj as an example,those 2 divinding factors on cnn ,need a chill pill or an exit. it a shame that (cnn)does not hear.leave mj alone for awhile ,and stop putting his family thru this nonsense.enough is enough, (cnn)has become (fox news) it is a sad turn, for a network that once had some class.

    July 9, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. Glennis

    It is not a "wake up" call. Most people know prescription drugs are dangerous. Yes, there is always a danger of someone becoming dependent, but this should not be an opportunity for the government to meddle in the ability to obtain them when needed. I think they're just looking for such an excuse.

    July 9, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. lynn in NM

    I don't think the death of Michael Jackson will bring anything to the forefront. The deaths of other celebrity junkies didn't change anything.

    July 9, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Patriot

    First off what in the world is a drug Czar? Is it a cabinet position? Why do we now have more Czars than the USSR ever did? Has anyone bothered to look up the definition for Czar? Is it just me or does it seem strange that we now have people in our government more powerful than cabinet appointees that go through no vetting process other than a simply head nod by the one who thinks he is the "chosen one" and therefore above the rules of the US for appointees. Wake up America!!! Wake up media and quit referring to these people as Czars...

    July 9, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  12. Gene

    Why does it take a celebrity death to realize the dangers of abusing rX drugs? Didn't we have the same realization when Heath Ledger died?

    July 9, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. Simmy

    Tim is one of those people who constantly rants about Liberals and fawns over Palin......He's not someone I would take seriously....He has his own issues.....

    Celebrity doctors need to be reigned in.......It is nothing short of murder to convince someone that they can get a good night's sleep by going under.......What if the doctor falls asleep, or goes to fix a sandwich and the person needs his help? Furthermore, how could he have known about Diprivan/Propofol unless a doctor told him? That drug is for "in hospital" use only.....It's a tragedy that didn't need to happen.....But as Stevie Wonder said, "Nothing can keep us from destiny." He's at peace now....I pray his children can survive the Tims of this world......Interesting that he receives more criticism in America than anywhere else in the world (except London's smucky 'The Sun' – a tabloid skank).......

    July 9, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. Melissa

    More like a wake up call that more regulation, and prosecution of those giving drugs out like candy, of doctors needs to happen.

    July 9, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  15. Jon

    As far as innocent until proven guilty comment made at the memorial... Two letter came to mind when that was said... O.J. Seriously, if any of you hponestly believe that Michael jackson was innocent then O.J. must have honestly been innocent as well.

    July 9, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. dean

    Geez can we just bury the guy already?

    July 9, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  17. Angie

    There will always be people with enough money to buy their way into and out of anything. I wish Michael Jackson hadn't chosen to fall to prescription drugs to numb him from the toxic people that he allowed in his life. On that same note, shame on the physicians who enabled the abuse and took his money in exchange for his life. We need tougher laws on dispensing prescriptions drugs, digital databases that keep track of who precribed who what, why, and when, and most importantly, stronger punishments for doctors who are happy to sacrifice their careers and worse – their ethics – to make an extra buck, especially at the very expense of the people they swore to protect.

    July 9, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. betts

    Are you kidding me? This is the new Drug Czar? CNN might as well as interviewed the ceo's from the pharmaceutical companies, if they wanted the same old propaganda, which blames the wrong people. The new “czar” is as unprepared to represent this national disgrace of medical incompetency, pharmaceutical greed, and regulatory corruption, as his predecessor was. And the media doesn't help, when they don't know what the core issues are. Most people know that the “illegal” use of these prescription drugs is not nearly as devestating as the “legal” use and abuse. They also know that “overtreatment” has caused more harm than the“undertreatment” of pain EVER did. These drugs come from one source; Pharmaceutical companies and doctors. And the FDA enables it. Try to keep that in mind

    July 9, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. I laugh at comrade Limbaugh daily

    Please dont tell Limbaugh.

    July 9, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. Juan, MS

    I think it's cowardly of Congress not to vote on a resolution. Taking a vote is American. If there are some people who want to vote for or against the resolution, so be it.

    Michael was a great humanitarian, and no one can deny that. Pelosi benefits from a state where Michael gave a lot of support, and she threw him under the bus.

    Trust me, they will have to revisit this again. Especially when their favorite "celebrity" has a turn.

    July 9, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  21. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Prescription drugs in the hands of people unable to handle them isone of the biggest problems we have right now. Michael Jackson is just one in a long line of people who had too easy an access to anything he wanted, and paid the ultimate price with his life.

    July 9, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. ralph

    I wish big brother would learn to mind their own business. But religious nuts have caused this to happen, a mixture of church and state, not a good recipe.

    July 9, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. David Burroughs

    It is absolutely absurded to even think of having a resolution in honor of Michael Jackson. He was not the kind of role model for anyone on this planet. Look at all the immoral things he did while living. He obviously didn't enjoy life or he would not have killed himself with his bad habits. He wasn't even happy with his color.
    Let's move on to something better to talk about. His life is over, those that want to remember him do so without making a big deal out of it.

    July 9, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  24. lluvia

    I totally agree with the article. Also, hospitals, doctors (dermatologist & dentist included), anesthesiologist, pharmacist should keep better records of their meds and who is getting them. Maybe finger printing would come in handy here so patients won't use other peoples names. What a time for this to come up when a universal health plan is being considered. It would benefit everyone.

    July 9, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  25. Republicans are the American Taliban

    If you abuse prescription drugs, you can get your own radio or TV show so you can spread hate and fear across America on a daily basis. Right Rush??

    July 9, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
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