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Posted: 12/8/2003 2:17:18 AM EDT

Doctor blamed for Ozzy Osbourne's stupor

By Chuck Philips
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Week after week, viewers tuning in to the hit reality series "The Osbournes" saw the star of the show in a perpetual stupor.

With cameras rolling, Ozzy Osbourne fell on his backside into the surf off Malibu. He passed out during a party at the Beverly Hills Hotel. He struggled to swat a fly in his dining room — only to slap himself in the face.

The sight of the aging rocker staggering around his Beverly Hills mansion, glassy-eyed and mumbling, became a staple of the MTV series last season.

The cause of Osbourne's disorientation never was explained. It turns out he was on Valium — and Dexedrine, Mysoline, Adderall and a host of other powerful medications. They were prescribed by a Beverly Hills physician who, unknown to Osbourne, was under investigation for overprescribing drugs to other celebrity patients.

Prescription records show that Dr. David Kipper had Osbourne on an array of potent drugs — opiates, tranquilizers, amphetamines, antidepressants, even an anti-psychotic.

The singer said he swallowed as many as 42 pills a day.

"I was wiped out on pills," said Osbourne, who fired Kipper in September, more than a year after becoming his patient. "I couldn't talk. I couldn't walk. I could barely stand up. I was lumbering about like the hunchback of Notre Dame. It got to the point where I was scared to close my eyes at night — afraid I might not wake up."

The state medical board last week moved to revoke Kipper's license, accusing him of gross negligence in his treatment of other patients.

Kipper, 55, declined to be interviewed. In a statement, he said that "ethical and medical privacy laws" barred him from discussing patient care.

The doctor's attorney, John Harwell, declined to comment beyond saying: "I can tell you that virtually every allegation you are reporting is inaccurate, incomplete or ... false."

Osbourne, who has battled substance abuse for decades, sought Kipper's help last year in kicking a dependence on prescription narcotics. Kipper administered a 10-day detoxification treatment. Osbourne was grateful. His wife, Sharon, then was diagnosed with cancer, and the rocker's relationship with Kipper took a new turn.

Kipper began writing prescriptions for a broad range of medications he said would alleviate Osbourne's anxiety and depression over his wife's illness. The number and potency of the drugs grew steadily, records show. Osbourne was on 13 medications at one point.

Medical experts who reviewed Osbourne's prescription records at the Los Angeles Times' request described the drug regimen as extreme.

Although they said they could not make definitive judgments without examining Osbourne and knowing his medical history, the doctors said the battery of medications prescribed by Kipper appeared excessive for any patient.

"The amount and potency of drugs being prescribed to this patient was outrageous," said Dr. Greg Thompson, an associate professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of Southern California Medical School and director of the Drug Information Center at County USC Medical Center.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, medical director of the chemical-dependency program at Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena, Calif., said the regimen was especially risky for someone with an addiction history.

"On my chemical unit," Pinsky said, "patients like this are not allowed to be exposed to any of these kinds of addictive drugs."

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne described their dealings with Kipper in interviews by phone and at their six-bedroom, Spanish-style mansion above Sunset Boulevard. They made available prescription records and the doctor's invoices, along with credit-card receipts and photocopied checks documenting payments.

The Osbournes said Kipper had won their confidence and had become a regular presence at their home. He accompanied Ozzy on tour and appeared in several episodes of "The Osbournes."

After Sharon was diagnosed with colon cancer last year, Kipper prescribed anti-anxiety medications for her and installed a team of nurses at the couple's home to care for her.

"It's like we let him just take over our lives," Sharon Osbourne said. "We didn't do anything without telling him."

Kipper charged $650,000 for his services from June 2002 until the couple fired him three months ago, records show. The medications cost them an additional $58,000.

Kipper, a University of California, Los Angeles-trained internist, is not certified as a specialist in addiction medicine or psychiatry. He often socializes with his clients, who include entertainment executives, actors, producers and musicians. Kipper carries a Screen Actors Guild card and has had bit parts in several films, including "As Good As It Gets," "Jackass — the Movie" and "Shallow Hal."

He is known for offering speedy and painless addiction therapy in luxury hotel suites or in patients' homes. Kipper has used a combination of drugs to wean addicts off narcotics. Key to the treatment is buprenorphine, a powerful synthetic opiate that spares patients the agony of withdrawal.

State authorities began investigating Kipper in 1998. The medical-board complaint issued last week accuses him of operating an unlicensed detox program, improperly using buprenorphine for addiction treatment, and overprescribing habit-forming drugs to eight patients from 1999 to 2002.

Osbourne became Kipper's patient in June 2002. The singer was overwhelmed by the success of his new TV series and, by his account, was "strung out on narcos."

Osbourne, 55, rose to fame after forming Black Sabbath in the late 1960s. The British rock quartet is often cited as a pioneer in the heavy-metal genre.

Link Posted: 12/8/2003 2:17:49 AM EDT
Guided by wife Sharon, who is also his manager, he reinvented himself during the '90s as an elder statesman of heavy metal. His annual "Ozzfest" tours, featuring Osbourne alongside hot young bands, attract huge audiences. In March 2002, MTV launched its unscripted series about Osbourne's home life, portraying him as the doting patriarch of a dysfunctional family. "The Osbournes" was an immediate sensation. In May of that year, Osbourne signed a $10 million renewal deal with MTV. He met President Bush at a Washington dinner. He performed at Buckingham Palace and shook hands with Queen Elizabeth II. It was, say those close to Osbourne, more than he could handle, and he suffered a relapse, abusing prescription narcotics. Sharon, who had heard about Kipper from a friend, contacted him to arrange an intervention. The doctor showed up at the Osbourne mansion with a team of nurses on June 27, 2002, and began his detox program. The treatment took 10 days. Kipper charged $30,500 — nearly triple the rate at traditional rehab centers. By early July, Osbourne was ready to start his next "Ozzfest" tour. He then learned that Sharon had cancer. His emotional state was fragile. Kipper accompanied him for the first week of the tour. The doctor charged $32,200 for his services and those of a nurse, records show. The Osbournes said they also paid for Kipper's air travel, meals and hotel accommodations. Episodes of "The Osbournes" filmed around that time show the star staring sadly out the window of his tour bus, crying on stage and leaving distraught phone messages for his wife from hotel rooms. "Ozzy couldn't cope," Sharon said. "He was worried I might die. He fell apart." The doctor began treating him for anxiety and depression and for a tremor that had become more pronounced. In August 2002, Kipper put Osbourne on Ambien, a sedative often used for insomnia, and Adderall, an amphetamine mixture. Kipper also provided nurses to watch over Osbourne at home. The drug regimen quickly expanded to include anti-anxiety pills, anti-psychotic tablets and antidepressants, as well as stimulants and tranquilizers. By November 2002, the rock star was taking 13 medications, including Valium, an anti-anxiety drug whose side effects can include clumsiness, grogginess and loss of balance. In all, Kipper prescribed more than 13,000 doses of 32 pharmaceuticals between August 2002 and August 2003, records show. "The doctor was stimulating him with uppers at the same time he was knocking him down with tranquilizers and barbiturates," said Thompson, the USC drug expert. "On top of that, he was giving him Zyprexa, a drug that should only be prescribed to extremely psychotic people. These are very powerful psychotherapeutic drugs that shouldn't just be passed out by an internist at this potency and frequency." The experts consulted by the Times said it appeared that Kipper prescribed some drugs to counteract side effects of other medications Osbourne was taking at his direction. In addition to the oral medications, Kipper periodically gave Osbourne shots of buprenorphine mixed with Valium. Buprenorphine, a chemical cousin of morphine and heroin, often is used to treat severe, chronic pain. Kipper administered the drug as part of Osbourne's detox treatment in June 2002. At that time, it was illegal to use buprenorphine for that purpose in this country. The Food and Drug Administration since has approved its use for detoxification, under strict conditions. A physician must take a state-approved class and obtain certification from the state medical board. Kipper did not have the certification when he was treating Osbourne. Records indicate the doctor gave Osbourne five buprenorphine-Valium injections in July 2002, four the next month, six in September and six in October. Kipper this year gave him two injections in March, seven in April and eight in May. Osbourne described the injections as "cocktails" and said he looked forward to them. "I quite liked it," he said. Osbourne's lumbering gait, lack of coordination and garbled speech became a central theme of "The Osbournes" during the show's second season, which aired beginning in November 2002. MTV crews followed Osbourne to Las Vegas for a performance at the Palm Hotel. In the episode, titled "Viva Ozz Vegas," Osbourne is seen mumbling incoherently to fans as he wanders the marble halls of the Venetian hotel-casino. Sharon, meanwhile, was undergoing chemotherapy under the supervision of a cancer specialist. Kipper was caring for her at home. "When I was going through my chemotherapy and cancer treatment, he just kind of came in and took over," she said. Kipper prescribed anti-anxiety drugs for her and provided nurses to watch over her. These were in addition to the nurses Kipper had supplied to tend to Ozzy. The pool of nurses provided coverage seven days a week and became part of the backdrop of "The Osbournes." A review of state records shows that none of the women was a licensed registered nurse or a licensed vocational nurse. Harwell, the doctor's attorney, said Kipper could not comment on his nurses' credentials because "revealing such information would violate patient confidences." On Dec. 31, 2002, during taping of the season finale of "The Osbournes," Ozzy got drunk and passed out during a party at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Although he was taking 10 medications at the time, he can be seen drinking wine, whiskey and beer. Kipper attended the event. At one point, Osbourne hugs him on camera and gives him a kiss on the cheek. By summer, Osbourne said, he was swallowing 42 pills a day. Prescription records provide a breakdown: Osbourne was taking eight doses of amphetamines per day, nine doses of tranquilizers, 16 of two kinds of barbiturates, two anti-seizure tablets, two anticonvulsant pills, two painkillers and three sleeping pills. In August, Osbourne was invited to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field in Chicago. He slurred his way through the song, mangling the familiar lyrics. The scene was replayed repeatedly on national TV. "Ozzy was overmedicated," Sharon Osbourne said. "He couldn't speak. He couldn't walk. He was falling over. Ozzy would call Kipper and tell him how bad he was feeling, and Kipper would say: 'Take five more of those and 10 more of these.' It was insane." After the Wrigley Field fiasco, Sharon said, she had had enough. She said she called Kipper and told him to stay away from her husband. On the advice of a friend, she scheduled an appointment for Ozzy with Dr. Allan Ropper, chief of neurology at Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston. Osbourne flew to Boston in September and met with Ropper. "He was absolutely flabbergasted about the kinds and amounts of medication that I was on," Ozzy said. "He asked me, 'Where are you getting all these pills from?' Then he just threw everything in the trash." Osbourne said the doctor weaned him off Kipper's medications and wrote him prescriptions for three drugs, primarily to treat what the singer described as a hereditary tremor. Ropper declined to comment. Interviewed at his mansion in October, Osbourne spoke and walked normally, showing none of the hesitation and confusion he had displayed on "The Osbournes." "Looking back on it now, I see Dr. Kipper as sort of a friendly villain," Osbourne said. "He befriended me. I liked him. He comes off as a really nice guy — that is, until you get the bill."
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 2:43:57 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 10:35:36 AM EDT
Thank God! I hoped he didn't permanetly slur like that.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 10:38:33 AM EDT
He was on drugs? No shit?
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 10:46:57 AM EDT
Ozzy on drugs??? Really?
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 10:52:28 AM EDT
Well that sucks. The show will suck even more now.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 10:52:43 AM EDT
That really suprised me, honestly I just thought he was just fried out of his mind for good.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 10:54:10 AM EDT
Originally Posted By illigb: Ozzy on drugs??? Really?
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[b]"Say it ain't so, Joe- say it ain't so!"[/b][>(][rolleyes][%|]
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 11:11:49 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Taxman: That really suprised me, honestly I just thought he was just fried out of his mind for good.
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