A doctor who treated Danny Gans said Friday the Las Vegas Strip headliner had a prescription five years ago for the potent painkiller blamed in his death but declined a similar prescription just a few months ago.
Dr. Michael Fishell, a Henderson pain specialist and anesthesiologist, recalled writing Gans a prescription for hydromorphone just once, in 2004, for an ailment that he declined to specify.
“I wrote it. It was appropriate to write it. He said it didn’t help that much,” Fishell said.
The county coroner has said the cause of the 52-year-old singer and impressionist’s sudden death was “acute hydromorphone toxicity” and “chronic pain syndrome.” He ruled out drug abuse.
Fishell said he reviewed a database of medical records in Nevada and California and found no record that Gans had a current prescription for hydromorphone, commonly marketed under the brand name Dilaudid.
The physician said that if Gans still had the old prescription, it might have lost up to 25 percent of its potency over the years.
Fishell said he examined Gans again in March, and Gans declined an offer for a new prescription.
“We looked at his shoulder again. I mentioned medications. He waived it off immediately,” Fishell said. “He said he would wait to go see a surgeon when he had a break in the show. He had very conservative therapy, if he used any medications at all.”
Fishell, who first spoke with the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Thursday, said Gans told him he didn’t want to take drugs because he feared they would dry out his vocal cords.
But Gans also suffered chronic pain stemming from his years as a minor league baseball player and the rigorous physical demands of his frenetic 90-minute one-man show, according to his former manager and close friend, Chip Lightman.
“I’m not saying he didn’t take it, because he obviously did,” Lightman said. “But he said he didn’t like to take medications.”