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Painkiller patch ‘not main cause of death’
11:11am Friday 30th May 2014 in News
A MAN died after using a painkilling patch given to him by a woman in a Canvey pub, an inquest has heard.
Gary Vickerson, 40, died just a few days after using the 100mg patch of Fentanyl, which was meant to ease his chronic back pain.
An inquest at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court yesterday heard the patch was 100 times more potent then morphine.
Mr Vickerson was found dead in his caravan, at Thorney Bay Caravan Park, Canvey, on November 6, 2012, just days after using the patch.
A post mortem examination showed he had died as a result of liver disease caused by drinking alcohol, with alcohol, codeine and the Fentanyl all being present in his bloodstream at the time of death and contributing to it.
The inquest heard the level of Fentanyl in his system, deemed a Class A drug if not prescribed by a doctor, had increased since Mr Vickerson’s death, but the Coroner Eleanor McGann ruled out the use of the drug as the main cause of death.
Dr Conrad Wolf, who carried out the post mortem examination, explained the increase.
He said: “Post mortem examinations normally take place the following day. However, there had been a weekend inbetween the request for a post mortem examination, on November 8, and a further working day when it did not go ahead. It happened on November 12.
“It is fair to say the longer the time between the time of death and the post mortem examination, the more the Fentanyl level is raised because it is redistributed from the tissues into the bloodstream.”
He said because of this delay it was impossible to know how much Fentanyl had been in Mr Vickerson’s bloodstream at the time of death.
The inquest heard despite the drugs being found in his system, and a thorough search being carried out, police did not recover any medication at the scene.
However, a paramedic and friend Christina Platt, who found Mr Vickerson’s body, said they had seen medicine in his caravan.
Ms Platt said: “Don’t ask me what it was, I can’t remember.
“But there was a cardboard medicine box and a pill bottle.”
The inquest heard a woman had been sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for 18 months, in January for supplying Mr Vickerson with the Fentanyl, which was a Class A drug.
She had been given it by her doctor for chronic pain relief and passed it on to Mr Vickerson to ease his back pain. Coroner Eleanor McGann recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.
Addressing his family, she said: “I know it has been a long road and you have been very involved in the investigation and you still have a number of questions.
“He did die from natural causes.
"There may have been lots of other things going on and I know you have questions for the police and for the Crown Prosecution Service. But I know you must have lots of happy memories of your son too and I hope those are what you take with you."
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