July 1st, 2009
04:36 PM ET

Drug analysis a multistep process

Program Note: Join us tonight on AC360º at 10 P.M. ET to hear Dr. Sanjay Gupta speak more on Michael Jackson's on-going medical examination.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/06/29/jackson.toxicology.test/art.jackson.toxicology.jpg caption="For toxicology screenings, blood samples are drawn from the leg and heart, as drugs can circulate around the body."]

Madison Park

Unlike television crime shows in which machines can instantly spit out results, toxicology testing to determine what drugs are in a person's body can be a long and painstaking process.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office estimates that toxicology tests on the body of Michael Jackson could take six to eight weeks. The results are needed to determine the singer's cause of death, a spokesman for the coroner said. The singer's autopsy last week was inconclusive, although officials said there were no indications of external trauma or foul play.

Identifying drugs in the human body requires a lengthy sequence of tests and confirmations that can take weeks and even months, forensic experts said.

Questions about the possible role of prescription medications in Jackson's death have swirled since Thursday, when the singer was found unconscious. Edward Chernoff, attorney for Dr. Conrad Murray, who tried to revive Jackson at the singer's rented home, said the doctor was not aware of any prescription drug abuse by Jackson.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Medical News • Michael Jackson
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. John Graves

    I dont buy that the doctor didnt know what prescriptions he was taking and he lived in the home and the police found the multiple prescriptions in his home.I beleive the doctor should have been at the hospital to tell them what happened and give them some insight,not leave his car and disappear.

    July 2, 2009 at 5:39 am |
  2. ramona garza

    michael jackson death was june 25,2009 and know his nurse wants to speak out saying that he begged 4 drug b-cuz he havn't slept 4 day so i guest she gave it 2 him but i dont understand y she still gave it 2 him that make me confuse so just plz find out already how he died and find a other subject so i can stop crying every day but if u cant find another i will still watch ur show but i will be sad all the time.........................R.I.P.michael jackson A.K.A KING OF POP 4 LIFE....................

    July 2, 2009 at 1:40 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    Dear CNN,
    The inherent line you take is trying to leave open the suspicion of foul play in MJ's death. My points are:-
    1) Several specific drugs from different sources have been named
    testing for those and whether they contributed to his death can be done quickly and published please.
    2) His managers and most recent (or other Doctor(s)) can aid Police in tracking any presription drug given to MJ in the last say 2 months,and concentrate on eliminating those as a cause.
    3) No evidence of Physical trauma or foul play... probably includes checking for needle puncture marks, cocaine speed etc meth amphetamines.
    4)The cause of death has not been disputed but what the hospital he went to stated. Cardiac arrest. The range of drugs that could induce that are also limited. again concentrate here.
    If those turn up nothing let him RIP as soon as possible.
    QED stop prognosticating and speculating for drama let the facts unfold and report them.
    I suspect if it were me or millions of others the hospitals verdict would not get a second look.
    Hey why do you not question Farrah's death was Involuntary suicide by Morphine overdose!?

    July 2, 2009 at 1:31 am |
  4. Sonja King

    I would like to know were the DEA involved in the Anna Nicole dealth?

    Thank you,

    Sonja King

    July 2, 2009 at 1:04 am |
  5. Debby

    If MJ DID have sleep issues, it makes total sense how this happened. Why is there NO mention from ANYONE about a "sleep apnea test". In addition to drugs as a primary factor, Sleep apnea is the most likely cause it seems to me, not only of his insomnia but likely his death as breathing problems exist with apnea. Why didn't the nurse have MJ do a sleepover test in a sleep center and observe him with machines that could track the oxygen in his blood and such? It seems to me, if she TRULY was involved in helping with his insomnia, that would be the FIRST thing she would do, order a sleep test with him somewhere. She mentions just sitting in his room by herself with NO machines? I'm no nurse but that just doesn't make sense. Why isn't Sonjay Gupta (sorry if I spelled that wrong) talking about that on your show and on CNN News as a possible cause? Insomnia is awful to experience, I have it myself and even though I have a CPAP machine to help me sleep, sometimes it is still hard to go to sleep.

    July 2, 2009 at 1:04 am |
  6. Lisolette

    In my opinion the nurse Cherilyn explains one of the biggest questions, "Why would Micheal ask a doctor to spend the night with him?" Well, according to my suspicions Nurse Cherilyn answered that question when she said that Michael asked her 3 months ago to find a sedative for him and find someone to monitor him while he sleeps. Cherilyn refused Michael's request once she checked her PDR and read him the side effects which could most likely lead to his death. However, a month later Dr. Murray steps onto the scene and begins to spend nights with Michael. The question that should be proposed to Dr. Murray is this, "Why would you give up a practice that you have owned for approximately 20 years to join Michael Jackson?" "Dr. Conrad Murray, why when you were asked 2 years ago to tend to the needs of one of Michael's ill children in Las Vegas in the middle of the night when you are not even a pediatric doctor, and you have taken the time to become a specialist of the heart?" Dr. Conrad Murray you are a
    cardiologist or have you forgotten.

    July 1, 2009 at 11:53 pm |
  7. Sabrina In Las Vegas

    TV Land time is not real time...Hollywood keeps it short and sweet for those with ADHD to follow along....as well as the 30/60 (20/40 minute without commercials) show.

    It must be a pain to sort out which molecules belong to which drugs and how each binds to the system.

    July 1, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  8. Robin Campbell

    I heard Sanjay Gupta say tonight that propofol is "milk of magnesia".
    I always knew milk of magnesia to be a treatment for indigestion and the like, not insomnia, and certainly not as a preoperative sedative.

    July 1, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  9. Mary

    Dr Gupta stated that Propofol will first induce one into a
    coma, Michael was said to have been in a coma when the
    paramedics were trying to save him.
    What other drugs did Michael have in his body that could induce
    a coma?
    Diprivan/Propofol cannot be dispense by RX at a typical pharmacy,
    hence, Dr. Murray would have to have lied to someone in order
    to get this IV drug. All medical records, pharmacy records must
    be investigated.
    Dr. Murray knows much more than he will admit to, his medical
    license, his reputation, his life is on the line. DUH??????????

    July 1, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  10. New Orleans

    Michael cannot start an IV on his own, thus some doctor
    had to administer the lethal dose.

    Who cares if Diprivan is not a controlled substance?
    It is illegal to willfully and porpusefully kill someone with
    a drug/narcotic.
    No matter what classification the drug is in, it still
    amounts to: HOMICIDE.
    The only significance of the classification of Diprivan would
    be to investigate how easy it would be for any non-
    medical professional to get their hands on it.
    Also, I would think that drugs that can only be administered via
    an IV would need to come from a hospital pharmacy.
    The LAPD have probably investigated or are investigating the hospital records and their pharmacy records. They have to record what drug was dispensed and the name of the person that the drug was released to is common protocol for a hospital pharmacy.
    The timeline of when he first showed symptoms needs to be thoroughly investigated. Time was crucial for his survival...

    July 1, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  11. Nounou

    I'm shocked about people especially CNN who are believing that nurse who changes her version of the facts at every interview. He begged her for medication three month ago, now it's 3 days before he died. What the heck? In previous interview she said that 3 days before he dies he told her that he's not feeling well and wanted her to come see him but she was hospitalized. What is the true version of what she's saying? If she knew he's in danger why she did not tell anyone 3 months ago? She's a certified nurse and does'nt know a commun hospital medication??? The medical specialist at CNN Dr Sanje Gupta said that you can't have only a dose it has to be running in the body as an IV for a long time. If it's so, then somone was next to him giving him the IV? who's that? his doctor? the nurse? Please respect the ded man and stop the lies, let him rest in peace.

    July 1, 2009 at 8:41 pm |
  12. Annie Kate

    The toxicology results will be quite interesting -what if they don't show anything though? I know that is unlikely but is it really out of the realm of possibility? As for what Dr. Murray did or did not know. Michael could have not told him about everything; lots of patients pick and choose what they are going to tell the new doctor. Its early days yet – not even time enough to get a good toxicology report to determine the cause of death. Let's assume innocence until there is evidence of any malpractice. People in this country are assumed to be innocent until proven guilty – not the other way around (guilty until proven innocent ).

    July 1, 2009 at 7:12 pm |
  13. Donna Wood, Lil' Tennessee

    I'm sorry Dr. Murray but I just don't buy that. I think you were very much aware and are just trying to cover your butt! I also think that you probably believe that most people are stupid enough to believe what you might be trying to sell them.

    Donna Wood
    Lexington, Tennessee

    July 1, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  14. DH

    Can anyone tell me how the Corroner and other officials have positively identified the corpse.
    In every video i see of Michael it seems his fingertips (prints) are bandaged and may have been altered. Also, he has had so much facial surgery that i'm sure his teeth and dental structure has also been changed. Are we sure the "King of Publicity Stunts" is really dead? Nothing seems to make sense in this story ... and now there will be no public viewing??? Claims he wanted to go out like"ELVIS", or perhaps like the rumors and burst of record sales like Elvis after his death...seems very Strange!

    July 1, 2009 at 5:22 pm |