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LOS ANGELES — Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today discussed a report prepared by agents in the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement showing that in the last month of his life, former child actor Corey Haim visited seven different doctors and seven different pharmacies to obtain at least 553 doses of prescription drugs, including dangerous narcotics.
The report confirms that from February 2, 2010 to March 5, 2010 – five days before he died – Haim obtained more than 195 tablets of Valium, 194 tablets of Soma, 149 tablets of Vicodin and 15 tablets of Xanax.
“In a period of 32 days, Corey Haim obtained at least 553 doses of potentially dangerous prescription drugs,” Brown said. “He died five days later. It’s important for people to understand that legal, prescribed drugs can be just as dangerous as street drugs, and doctor shopping can be deadly.”
Brown has been at the forefront of efforts to crack down on prescription-drug abuse and those criminals who profit from it.
In the report, Haim’s primary physician confirmed that Haim was addicted to pain medication. The investigation also uncovered that Haim used at least one alias to obtain pain medication. Although he was being treated by his primary physician, Haim continued to obtain prescription drugs from emergency rooms and urgent care facilities.
Witnesses confirmed that Haim had abused prescription drugs since the age of 15, attempting rehabilitation several times. In the months before he died, Haim was preparing to do a media special on how easy it was for him to obtain pain medications.
Haim’s doctors told agents that Haim was very convincing in his justifications for needing prescription pain medications. Haim told doctors he had shoulder pain acquired while he was filming a movie in Canada. He also claimed he was not seeing any other doctors and discussed his future plans to have surgery. Some of those doctors said they felt “duped” and “conned” when they found out from Haim’s primary physician that he was a drug seeker.
Haim visited multiple pharmacies to fill his prescriptions, investigators found, and either requested additional medication or asked for refills before the due date.
The report concluded that Haim’s behavior was consistent with “doctor shopping,” in which a patient requests care from multiple physicians, often to feed the patient’s addiction to prescription drugs. Patients prescribed a drug necessary for treatment of a legitimate medical condition will seek out other physicians to obtain more of the same medication, often by faking or exaggerating the extent of the true condition. It is common for patients to use aliases in order to evade detection.
Haim’s name surfaced in connection with an illegal prescription-drug ring operating in Southern California. The ring operates by ordering prescription-drug pads from authorized vendors and using identities stolen from doctors. The pads are then either sold on the street to prescription-drug addicts or to individuals who are paid to fill the prescription and then sell the drugs on the underground market.
The investigation has thus far linked 4,500 to 5,000 fraudulent prescriptions to the fraud ring and has led to one arrest.
The San Diego Regional Pharmaceutical Narcotic Enforcement Team (RxNET) is conducting the investigation. RxNET is a cooperative effort of the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, Department of Health Care Services, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. RxNET also works in conjunction with other state, federal and local law enforcement agencies.
Prescription-drug abuse is a growing problem. Brown’s office has investigated and filed charges in more than 200 cases—both against physicians who have abused their trust and against patients who go from doctor to doctor in search of drugs.
In addition to costing the state millions of dollars each year, prescription-drug abuse can have serious public safety consequences: many of the top abusers hold down regular jobs including driving trucks, operating transit vehicles and working in medical facilities.
California is at the forefront of technology that makes it more difficult for criminals to operate prescription-drug rings. Brown’s office has introduced significant technology upgrades to the state’s prescription-monitoring program, known as CURES, by creating an accessible, online database. The database is a critical tool in assisting law enforcement investigations into these types of crimes.
For more information on the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and California’s prescription-drug monitoring system visit: http://ag.ca.gov/bne/cures.php.