The apparent suicide of embattled country music singer Mindy McCready has put Dr. Drew Pinsky's VH1 series "Celebrity Rehab" in the spotlight again. McCready appeared on the show's third season, and she's the fifth former "Rehab" cast member who's died since seeking treatment on the reality TV series.
Mike Starr of Alice in Chains, and "The Real World's" Joey Kovar, also from the show's third season, died of drug overdoses after their "Rehab" stints. And drugs were believed to play a role in the deaths of season two stars Jeff Conaway and Rodney King.
But is there any link between the deaths and the very public treatment each of the stars received for their addictions? Or did the nature of their addictions simply put McCready and others at high risk of early mortality?
On Sunday, singer Richard Marx gave his opinion. After tweeting his sympathies about McCready, he compared Pinsky to physician-assisted- suicide advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian.
"I think ‘Dr’ Drew Pinsky should change his name to Kevorkian. Same results," Marx wrote in a now-deleted tweet.
Marx apologized for the swipe on Monday, but maintained his criticism.
"I went too far with the Kevorkian crack," he wrote. "It is, however, my opinion that what Dr. D does is exploitation and his TV track record is not good."
Pinsky called into "The View" Tuesday morning and was asked about that track record and whether or not he felt reality TV treatment played a role in the deaths of the former "Rehab" stars.
"In a weird way, I wish I could claim more responsibility for this," he said. "The reality is, though, I haven't seen Mindy, say, in years. I've talked to her occasionally, we've been friendly, but I've not been her doctor in years."
As for the others?
"I wish some of them would stay with us," Pinsky said. "Some of them do, and some are sober. But some go on their own way and cut their own path. I wish I could be more responsible for them. I received (on Monday) about 10 emails and texts from those that are doing well who were so grateful."
Among those who reached out to the doctor was season three's Heidi Fleiss.
"'Celeb Rehab' and you are the best things I've done for myself," the woman once dubbed "The Hollywood Madam" told him via text.
Pinksy said the message left him feeling that he was "doing something right" with the show.
"I think there's an important lesson here, that these diseases -- advanced addictions -- have the same prognosis as cancer," he explained. "If you don't participate in treatment in an ongoing fashion, the prognosis is really bad."
Pinsky took a break from "Celebrity Rehab" after the show's fifth season. He now leads in VH1's "Rehab With Dr. Drew," which focuses on the addictions and treatment of non-stars.
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