Warning over dangers of internet medicine after death of St Albans man

CORONER Edward Thomas has warned of the dangers of purchasing non-prescribed medicine via the internet and “off the street” following the death of a St Albans man.

An inquest at Hatfield heard how James Mower, of Valerie Close, was known to have taken medication, including sleeping tablets, that were not prescribed by his GP.

It is not known exactly when Mr Mower, aged 39, died, but his body was found at his home on February 28 this year.

Mr Thomas, coroner for Herts, ruled that Mr Mower’s death was unintentional, and that he died accidentally following an overdose of methadone, which had not been prescribed.

The inquest was told it is believed he bought the synthetic opiate, used as a substitute for heroin in the treatment of heroin addiction, “from the street”.

The inquest was told that Mr Mower, who was born in St Albans, was a car valet whose hobbies included operating remote-controlled vehicles at Verulamium Park.

His GP, Dr James Ferguson, told the inquest that Mr Mower was an intelligent man who could be, “very charming, but was very troubled. We were struggling to help him”.

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He said Mr Mower bought “large quantities” of over-the-counter medicine and had been taken to hospital twice after accidentally taking overdoses.

He had taken Zopiclone, a common sleeping tablet which had not been prescribed.

But Mr Mower was not believed to be suicidal and had been “remorseful during his recovery periods”.

The GP said: “He became upset with himself and suffered low self-esteem.”

The inquest was told that Mr Mower was “experienced at accessing medication from different sources”.

A specialist from the Community Drug and Alcohol Team told the inquest that Mr Mower “had a history of substance abuse” and that he had told the service that he had taken opiates at one stage.

The inquest heard that Mr Mower would order unprescribed medicine online.

The specialist explained: “He would get distressed and his solution was to take something to calm him down. I warned him that one extra dose might be the killing one.”

His death was discovered after a plumber was unable to get into his home to service the boiler or reach him by phone on February 27.

His body was found upstairs in his bedroom on the following day.

Mr Thomas said Mr Mower, who was “well supported by professionals and his family” was not a habitual user of methadone.

He warned: “It is very dangerous to take medicine that is not prescribed.”