Make us your home page

Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose



Tbdheathledgerb020708 The New York Chief Medical Examiner has determined that Heath Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose, multiple media sources are reporting.

"Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine," an announcement released Wednesday by spokeswoman Ellen Borakove read.

"We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications."

For those of you not familiar with those drugs, the AP breaks it down: Oxycodone is a painkiller marketed as OxyContin and used in other painkillers such as Percodan and Percocet; hydrocodone is used in a number of painkillers, including Vicodin. Diazepam and alprazolam are the generic names for the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and the other two drugs are sleep aids commonly sold under the brands Restoril and Unisom.

"This is a dangerous mixture of drugs," forensic patholigist Dr. Michael Hunter told People magazine. "We are seeing more and more people dying of poly-drug intoxication from prescription drugs and it usually a combination of the narcotic-type drugs seen here."

Hunter, who is not involved in the Ledger case, said it was unlikely that one doctor would prescribe all of those drugs to one person at one time. He also explains to People what the finding means.

"When they use the term abuse it tells us that he used drugs to obtain an intoxicant effect and not for a therapeutic reason," he said. "They must have determined through their investigation that the drugs were not for therapeutic use."

Ledger's father Kim issued a statement about the results shortly after the findings were announced.

"Today's results put an end to speculation, but our son's beautiful spirit and enduring memory will forever remain in our hearts," it read. "While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."

Whether or not the dosage was low, that's enough drugs to put a bull elephant down for a nap. Now we're scared to see The Dark Knight, for fear of the nightmares it will give us.

[Photo: Getty Images]

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:34am]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours