Justice With Dignity - Committee to Remember Kimberly Rogers

Kimberly Rogers Inquest Alerts

Doctor allowed woman to stockpile pills
by Keith Lacey

Northern Life
October 22, 2002 18:00

Kimberly Rogers’s doctor says he allowed her to stockpile pills because he was afraid her welfare and drug benefits could be cut off and she would run out of medicine.

An inquest has heard Rogers stockpiled more than 1,300 amitriptyline pills in the 10 weeks before her death.

Dr. Robert Clendenning said he believes the pregnant woman confined to house arrest for welfare fraud took her own life even though Rogers had decreased her reliance on prescription pills after becoming pregnant.

Clendenning had treated Rogers on a regular basis since 1996 and spent half a day on the witness stand Monday detailing every prescription he filled for her between 1998 and July 23, 2001.

Rogers died of an overdose of amitriptyline, a prescription drug used to combat depression and migraine headaches.

The combination of such a lethal concentration of the drug and an empty pill bottle found by her bed by police are strong evidence she committed suicide, said Clendenning.

He had repeatedly warned Rogers not to use more than the 300 milligram dosage he prescribed before going to bed each night, warning her it could prove lethal, he said.

The woman was one of his favourite patients, he said.

“She was an intelligent women and she understood me,” he said.

When used as prescribed, Clendenning said amitriptyline is “no more lethal than Tylenol.”

Society and the government treat family pets better than Rogers was treated after being convicted of welfare fraud, he told the jury.

Rogers had been sentenced to six months of house arrest after pleading guilty to theft over $5,000 for collecting $14,000 in welfare benefits in addition to student loans.

One month after her sentence began, Rogers and a Toronto lawyer successfully launched a court challenge and her benefits were reinstated.

At the time of her death, the lawyer and Rogers were preparing a more complex court challenge alleging cutting off benefits to a pregnant woman was unconstitutional.

Rogers “did not have a drug problem but tended to be a “drug seeker” who became reliant on using prescription drugs for several psychological and physical problem she suffered from, her doctor said.

“She was pretty sophisticated and intelligent about her use of medication,” he said.

Clendenning told the jury amitriptyline was like a miracle drug for Rogers as it appeared to be controlling both her depression and regular migraine headaches.

“She was bright as a bird” during a couple of visits in the weeks before she died, he said. “She told me she had been feeling better than she had in years.”

Clendenning confirmed Rogers suffered from numerous ailments, including regular migraine headaches, panic attacks, insomnia and depression.

The last time he saw her was during a visit July 23 about two weeks before her death.

Rogers looked “glum and expressionless”, but said she was feeling in decent health with the exception of some headaches.

When asked if any “red flags went up” because Rogers on several occasions made visits to have prescriptions filled earlier than scheduled, Clendenning said he liked her and wanted to help her.

“I had the option of saying Kim I don’t believe you and that would have ended our relationship,” he said. “I chose to believe her.”

In early 1999, Rogers had gained his trust sufficiently that he started writing prescriptions for three months at one time, to be filled monthly, he said.

In 1999, Rogers told him she had bumped her head and specifically asked for Percoset, a powerful pain killer and he “categorically refused”, said Clendenning.

Percoset is only prescribed to patients who are completely compliant, and “I didn’t have that impression yet with Kimberly.”

Percoset pills are also popular as a street drug and often sold for $5 a pill, he said.

Over the course of their doctor/patient relationship, he tried to get Rogers to talk about her past and open up, but she steadfastly refused, he said.

“She was pathologically private.”

In late September of 1999, Clendenning testified he confronted Rogers about her ongoing drug use and reliance on prescription medication for every ailment she complained of.

“I was just expressing my concern about her chronic use,” he said. “She tended to want the quick fix for everything.”

Rogers convinced him she only took the drugs as prescribed throughout their relationship, he said.

When Rogers first told him she was pregnant in early 2001, she was not pleased, he said.

However, a few months later, that attitude has changed and she talked proudly about becoming a mother.

Rogers had quit using all drugs prescribed for pain, was off most medication for insomnia and was only using amitriptyline and Tylenol to control her migraine headaches, he said.

Both of these drugs are considered very safe to use by pregnant woman if used as prescribed, he said.

Rogers was very embarrassed about the publicity surrounding her court case, he said.

“She was under enormous social stresses” related to her conviction and court challenge, but that’s why giving her appropriate medication became even more important, he said.

When asked if he would do anything different about prescribing drugs for Rogers during their relationship, Clendenning responded “I can’t think of anything I would do differently.”

When he found out Rogers was living with so little, that’s when he decided to allow her to fill prescriptions early in the three months before her death, he said.

He was worried her drug card would be suspended and she wouldn’t have any access to the medications she needed so badly to live any kind of quality life, he said.




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