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Doctor's Drug Treatment of Osbourne Probed

April 03, 2004|Chuck Philips | Times Staff Writer

The state medical board is investigating a complaint that Dr. David A. Kipper, a Beverly Hills physician with a celebrity clientele, overprescribed addictive drugs to rock star Ozzy Osbourne.

Authorities have asked Kipper to turn over copies of Osbourne's medical records and have scheduled a meeting with the British singer and his wife, Sharon, according to people familiar with the probe.

In November, the Medical Board of California accused Kipper of overprescribing habit-forming drugs to other patients and running an illegal detoxification program for addicts. The board has postponed a ruling on that case until its investigation into the Osbourne complaint is finished, the sources said.

Kipper's attorney, John D. Harwell, said the doctor was "always pleased to cooperate with the medical board." He declined to comment further.

Osbourne filed a complaint with the board in early March, contending that Kipper had him taking excessive quantities of powerful medications for more than a year.

The singer first aired the allegations in a Times article published Dec. 7. Osbourne blamed Kipper for causing the disoriented behavior he exhibited on his hit reality TV series, "The Osbournes." The singer said he had been swallowing as many as 42 pills a day at Kipper's direction, including Dexedrine, Valium, Zyprexa and other potent drugs.

"I was wiped out on pills," Osbourne said at the time. "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."

Osbourne, who has battled substance abuse for decades, had sought Kipper's help in June 2002 to kick a dependence on prescription narcotics. Kipper administered a 10-day detoxification regimen at Osbourne's mansion and soon began accompanying the singer on tour to monitor his recovery. Kipper was a frequent visitor to the Osbourne mansion and appeared on the TV series

Then Osbourne suffered an emotional collapse after his wife was diagnosed with colon cancer. According to the couple, Kipper began treating the singer for anxiety and depression.

Prescription records indicate that he put Osbourne on an array of potent drugs over the next year -- including opiates, tranquilizers, amphetamines, antidepressants and antipsychotic medications.

Kipper also prescribed anti-anxiety medications for Sharon Osbourne and installed a team of nurses at the couple's home. Kipper charged the couple $650,000 for his services from June 2002 until they fired him last September, records show. The medications he prescribed cost them an additional $58,000.

The couple initially planned to file a complaint with the board in December, but postponed the action after Osbourne was seriously injured that month while riding an all-terrain vehicle on his estate in southern England.

Kipper, an internist, has offered addiction treatment to celebrity patients for years. Treating them in their homes or in luxury hotels, he used a variety of medications to wean addicts off drugs quickly and painlessly.

In Hollywood circles, the program was seen as a discreet alternative to traditional drug rehabilitation, which can last months and require years of follow-up therapy.

In its earlier investigation of Kipper, the medical board contended that he operated an unlicensed detox program and overprescribed habit-forming drugs to eight patients from 1999 to 2002. Harwell has said he hoped to reach a settlement with the board that would allow Kipper to continue practicing.

Deputy State Atty. Gen. Richard D. Marino, who is helping the medical board conduct its investigation, declined to comment, as did the Osbournes.

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