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McDougal Died Naturally, Examiner Says

May 01, 1998| From Associated Press

DALLAS — Imprisoned Whitewater figure James B. McDougal died of natural causes, even though he had an abnormal amount of the antidepressant Prozac in his system, a medical examiner said Thursday.

"In our opinion, there is no indication of foul play, no indication of poisons," said Tarrant County Medical Examiner Nizam Peerwani. "We are pretty confident that he died of natural causes."

McDougal, a former business partner of President Clinton's, had been in failing health for years when he died in solitary confinement March 8. He was serving a three-year sentence in Fort Worth for conspiracy to defraud the government.

Peerwani said McDougal's Prozac dosage in prison had been about three times the usual amount of 20 milligrams daily.

"Anything above therapeutic levels is toxic when a patient begins exhibiting symptoms," said Peerwani. "But Prozac is considered a safe drug, and this was not in the lethal range."

He said he did not know McDougal's psychiatric history and could not explain why the prison and medical staff administered such a dosage for his depression.

But the Federal Bureau of Prisons said McDougal was advised on his prescription. "The level of Prozac that was prescribed was within his medical needs and . . . did not contribute to his death," said Daniel R. Dunne, prison bureau spokesman in Washington.

The executor of McDougal's Arkansas estate said because conspiracy theories about his death had been expected, the autopsy results were a comfort.

McDougal, 57, had been on other medications for a variety of problems, including a heart ailment.

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