Often in tears, Michael Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe testified Wednesday that doctors seemed in competition to see who could give him the most powerful painkillers.
“Michael had a very low pain tolerance, and his fear of pain was incredible, and I think the doctors took advantage of him that way,” said Rowe, the mother of the singer's two oldest children.
Rowe spoke in a folksy, informal manner on the stand, coming across as someone who truly cared about the singer.
Rowe said that dermatologist Arnold Klein took over Jackson's pain management but that plastic surgeon Steven Hoefflin would call the singer and say, "I have a better drug."
At one point, she said, she found a bottle of the powerful drug dilaudid on Jackson's counter that Hoefflin had prescribed. She said she told Jackson not to take it.
“These idiots were going back and forth the whole time not caring about him," she testified.
Rowe, who worked for Klein, said she was concerned that Jackson was not getting better.
“Klein was not doing what was best for Michael," she said. "The only physician who who ever cared for Michael was Allan Metzger,” his internist, who was treating Jackson for lupus.
She said Jackson began receiving pain medication after his scalp was burned during the filming of a Pepsi commercial.
Rowe said she was with Jackson about 10 times when Hoefflin gave him the anesthetic propofol when he was undergoing various procedures, such as collagen and botox injections. She said Klein also gave him propofol. She said Klein had five or six other patients whom he knocked out when they were undergoing cosmetic procedures.
She said there were times when extensive scarring in Jackson's nose made it difficult for him to breathe and that he needed a painful injection of steroids in his nose to bring down the swelling.
On at least two occasions, Hoefflin put Jackson out with propofol and didn't do anything other than put tape in his nose, Rowe testified.
However, she said she was not aware of Jackson ever going to Hoefflin's office because he was feeling stress or needed sleep.
Rowe said she met Jackson while working for Klein as an assistant who took patient histories and helped schedule appointments with the dermatologist and other doctors. She said she met Jackson when Klein called her in on a weekend in the early 1980s.
"I opened the door to the room and Michael was there. I introduced myself and I said, 'Nobody does what you do better. Nobody. You are amazing, but nobody does what I do better. I am amazing and if we could do these amazing things on regular time, I would appreciate it.'”
Rowe was called as a witness by concert promoter and producer AEG Live. Jackson's mother and three children are suing AEG for wrongful death. They say the firm negligently hired and supervised Conrad Murray, who gave Jackson a fatal overdose of propofol in June 2009. AEG says that Jackson hired the doctor and that any money the firm was supposed to pay Murray was an advance to the singer.
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