Tattle: Coroner wants Whitney data

Posted: February 16, 2012

AS SATURDAY'S funeral for Whitney Houston nears, there's still a fair amount of breaking news:

* The Los Angeles County coroner's office has issued subpoenas for medical and pharmacy records from Whitney's doctors and medical providers.

Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said that the request is made in virtually all death investigations because such records can shed light on how people died and whether they had any serious medical conditions.

"We've already contacted a number of doctors with requests for records," he said.

"If somebody even dies in a crash, a blunt-force trauma, we will still take medical issues into account," he said.

"Anything helps."

Law enforcement can also access California's prescription- drug-monitoring database (CURES), which contains more than 100 million prescriptions and receives from four million to six million additions every month.

The data culled from pharmacies can determine whether doctors are prescribing outside the course of normal medical practice, and can show if a patient is getting multiple prescriptions from various physicians, commonly known as doctor-shopping.

Gov. Jerry Brown touted the CURES program several years ago, when he was attorney general. Under his leadership, high-profile investigations were launched into the deaths of Michael Jackson, Corey Haim and Anna Nicole Smith.

* Interest in Whitney's music has skyrocketed since her death, pushing her songs back onto the charts ("I Will Always Love You" was No. 1 on iTunes) and into heavy rotation on the radio.

Meanwhile, Sony Music apologized for a rise in the British iTunes price of two of Whitney's albums following her death, saying that the increase was a mistake.

* N.J. Gov. Chris Christie is strongly defending his decision to have flags lowered to half-staff Saturday for Whitney.

Christie says that he rejects the idea that the Newark/East Orange native "forfeited the good things that she did in her life" because of her drug abuse.

He says that critics are wrongly accusing him of treating Houston better than fallen soldiers, as he has ordered flags flown at half-staff for all 31 fallen New Jersey soldiers and every fallen police officer during his time in office.

* Fans worldwide will be able to watch Whitney's private funeral on the Internet.

Her publicist, Kristen Foster, announced that the Associated Press will provide camera work for Saturday's ceremony and will stream the service on livestream.com/aplive.

TATTBITS * Wendy Will- iams will make her QVC debut tomorrow at 8 p.m. and return Friday at 1 a.m. to unveil her jewelry and accessories line, Adorn. Prices range from about $20 to $200. * The latest Bluewater comic-book bio, Female Force: Cher, sold out in one day. A second printing is on the way. * The Italian American One Voice Coalition responded to Hoboken's rejection of MTV's "Jersey Shore" reality show - by giving Mayor Dawn Zimmer an award. Zimmer received the "Una Voce" award yesterday for denying film permits to a show that the group feels promotes negative stereotypes of Italian Americans. * More than 1,000 people crammed into San Francisco's City Hall on Valentine's Day to honor Tony Bennett and the 50th anniversary of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." * Daredevil Nik Wallenda is set to walk a 1,800-foot, 2-inch tightrope across Niagara Falls this summer, a feat the seventh-generation member of the famed Flying Wallendas said has been his childhood dream. Gee, most boys want to be astronauts or firemen. - Daily News wire services contributed to this report.

Email gensleh@phillynews. com

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