There is a myth that Dr. Nichopoulos introduced into the Elvis community many years ago that attempts to explain and justify the massive amounts of drugs the doctor took with him on Elvis’s tours. The myth goes basically like this: Dr. Nichopoulos had to write many high-quantity Schedule II prescriptions just prior to each tour so that he would have an ample supply of medications to treat anyone on the tour who required medical attention, since the potential number of people in his care was around one-hundred. This group of people would include Elvis and his immediate travel companions, along with the band members, the orchestra, the back-up vocal groups, the stage crew, and anyone else who might fall under the category, “Traveling With or Working for Elvis.” Dr. Nichopoulos’s position was that the drugs were for everyone, all these people, as needed, and not just for Elvis.
So, just before each tour, Nichopoulos would write a bunch of prescriptions for a bunch of medications, mostly narcotics for pain. He said he wrote these prescriptions so that he/they were all stocked up for the tour…this way he wouldn’t need to get medications out on the road. Not sure why that would have been a problem, but, that was his position. Then at the start of the next tour, Nichopoulos would write very similar prescriptions for the same drugs in roughly the same quantities. This is where the myth starts to fall apart. Let’s stick with round figures as examples to explain this, and to keep things simple:
Prescription1: 100 tablets;
Prescription2: 100 tablets;
Prescription3: 50 tablets;
Prescription4: 75 capsules.
Before a tour, Nichopoulos would procure these medications. Then at the start of the next tour, he’d repeat the process. But if he was writing the same prescriptions for the same quantities, that means that all the medications taken out on the previous tour were all used in the medical treatment of any number of people. This is an important point: at the start of any given tour, Nichopoulos indicated by writing these large prescriptions that all the drugs from the previous tour were gone.
Now, please keep this in mind: These are very powerful drugs, and in all the books I’ve read and the interviews I’ve heard, I don’t recall ever hearing about musicians or friends or family out on tour with Elvis suffering from debilitating pain, to the point that Dilaudid and Quaalude and Percodan were required. Who needed all these pain meds?
But sticking with the Tour Stockpile Myth, Nichopoulos suppposedly used up all the meds on a tour, so for the next tour he needed a new supply of the same medications. And, we must assume that there were no medications left over, because that would affect the number of medications needed for the next tour, right? For example, if only 50 tablets of Prescription1 were used on a tour, then Nichopoulos would theoretically not need the full 100-tablet prescription for the next tour, right? He would need only 50. If only 20 tablets from Prescription2 were used, he’d need only 20 for the next tour. If 5 tablets were used from the Prescription3 stock, he’d need to replace only those 5; and if 40 capsules were used from the Prescription4 stock, he’d need to replace/prescribe only 40 capsules for the next tour. In this manner, he starts each tour with roughly the same types and quantities of these drugs. Nothing changed from tour to tour, right? So nothing changed with the drugs Nichopoulos said he needed at the start of each tour.
But this isn’t what would happen. Each tour, Nichopoulos wrote the same prescriptions for the same quantities. If the previous tour stock was not depleted, then, where did the extra pills go? Did Nichopoulos keep them? Did he send them over to The Backyard Pharmacy®? What did he do with them? The prescriptions were written in Elvis’s name, and Elvis was paying for them, so the drugs belonged to Elvis. But if Nichopoulos was the custodian of the drugs over the course of a tour, certainly he did not just hand the leftovers to Elvis as The Lisa Marie touched down at Memphis International. What was the protocol for excess drugs then? We don’t know.
So the start of the next tour approaches and Nichopoulos writes all the new prescriptions. By writing the same prescriptions for the name numbers of pills, he was indicating that all the drugs were used on the previous tour, as outlined above. But what are the chances that on each tour, every tour, 100 Quaalude tablets, for example, were used? If Nichopoulos had 100 Dilaudid tablets, are we supposed to believe that at the end of each tour all those Dilaudid tablets had been used and there were none left? Percodan…100 tablets…all gone…? If so, what on Earth was happening on those tours to produce so much illness and pain that so much narcotic pain medication was required for so many people? I have never heard/read of anyone on those 1976/1977 tours being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer while on tour. I have never heard of broken bones on tour. I have never heard that afflictions and accidents and injuries caused Nichopoulos’s tour drug stockpile to be used up. And not just during one tour or a few tours. No, according to Nichopoulos, it was all the tours. Every tour. I have never heard that anyone in the traveling group was using these drugs while out on tour; no, it was only Elvis. And yet, even though Elvis had an addiction problem with these narcotics, the myth wants us to believe that everyone on tour was using these drugs.
Everyone. Every tour. All the drugs.
Is this even remotely possible?