Michael Jackson's medical history is starting to unfold in pill form.
Los Angeles County Coroner's officials have confiscated various prescription drugs from the entertainer's rented Holmby Hills mansion, Chief Investigator Ed Winter told reporters Monday.
A team from the medical examiner's office, including Winter and a photographer, had been spotted going inside around noon.
The investigators emerged from the residence toting two large plastic bags, declining to mention any specifics of what they found or where. They removed "additional medical evidence as part of our work with the LAPD," Winter said.
The Los Angeles Times reported today that authorities are in the process of interviewing a number of doctors who prescribed medication for Jackson.
The initial autopsy performed Friday was ruled inconclusive pending the results of toxicology tests in six to eight weeks, though Winter confirmed that Jackson was taking prescription meds. A second autopsy requested by the family was performed the following day.
But while fans and family alike won't know for sure what caused Jackson's sudden heart failure, the star's longtime friend Dr. Deepak Chopra has little doubt that drug use may have come into play.
"He was extraordinary when he was in his ecstatic states. But he was also troubled, and he surrounded himself with people who were enablers and frequently avoided people who were trying to help him," he told the Early Show this morning.
"In the year 2005 after the trial, he came and stayed with us for a few days, and during that time he asked me for a prescription for OxyContin," he continued. "I was very surprised, and I said, 'Why do you want that?' And he said, 'I have back pain.' And I said, 'You don't need that narcotic for back pain.' And then, as I probed, I found out that he was taking a lot of narcotics prescribed by different physicians."
"Somebody like that is obviously not in a normal state of consciousness," he went on to explain. "After a while, actually, they actually believe that, if they didn't get their fix, or the drug, or the narcotic, they might die…When you're prescribing narcotics, you need to be with very competent doctors."
Therein may lie the rub.
Despite his claims not to have given Jackson OxyContin or Demerol, Dr. Conrad Murray was working without board certification at the time of the star's death, E! News has learned.
The American Board of Internal Medicine confirms that the doctor's most recent board certification examination was taken in 1998…and his certification expired Dec. 31, 2008.
At this time, it cannot be determined whether Dr. Murray simply did not pass the exams that would have renewed his required certification for 2009, or whether he chose to forgo them altogether.
Murray's issues with the medical board apparently didn't stop him from taking a prominent role when he discovered Jackson unconscious in his bedroom Thursday afternoon.
"The doctor rode with Michael Jackson to the hospital," Murray's attorney, Edward Chernoff, told Larry King Live today. "He was in the hospital room. He worked with the doctors at UCLA to try to revive him. After he was pronounced dead, the doctor stayed in the hospital, spoke with the family members that were there at the time."
According to Chernoff, Murray was the one who broke the news to Jackson's children and advised doctors to break the news gently to the singer's mother, Katherine, who has a heart condition.
"He comforted La Toya and he talked with Jermaine, as well, about Michael and helped Jermaine with a press release," the lawyer said. "Ultimately, he spoke to the police and left."
Per Chernoff, Murray has denied ever prescribing the painkillers Demerol or Oxycontin to Jackson and had certainly not injected the singer with Demerol before he died.
When King asked why Murray needed a lawyer, if the physician was not considered a person of interest in the investigation, Chernoff said, "You have a lot more faith in the justice system if you don't think he doesn't need a lawyer."
But whatever Murray added to the equation, the "Thriller" singer himself was in tip-top shape just days before his death, if manager Frank DiLeo is to be believed.
"He was in good shape," he told Good Morning America this morning. "His heart was good. He was strong. He was in shape to do this tour…There would have been no problems, I don't think, with him doing this tour. Nobody was pushing him to do it. Nobody was overworking him, you know, all those reports are false."
We guess only time will tell for sure.
—Additional reporting by Giselle Ugarte
(Originally published June 29, 2009, at 3:55 p.m. PT)