After Jackson, US agency renews warnings on drug abuse

Some people close to the 50-year-old pop icon revealed yesterday they had been concerned for some time about his use of drugs, a day after he collapsed and died apparently from cardiac arrest at his rented Los Angeles home.

In response to numerous calls triggered by the singer's sudden death, the DEA put back up on its website a May report into prescription drugs that showed more than 8,500 people died from misusing them in 2005.

It warned that more people died from drug abuse than in shootings, and in the category of accidental deaths it came only second to car accidents.

The LA coroner was carrying out an autopsy on Jackson yesterday, and toxicology results are not expected for several weeks.

But celebrity website -- which broke the news of Jackson's death -- reported yesterday he had been administered an injection of the powerful painkiller Demerol about an hour before he lost consciousness.

Los Angeles Police Department Officer Karen Rayner said investigators spoke with the doctor who gave Jackson the dose but they wanted to speak with him again.

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