Autopsy Finds Matthew Perry Died of Ketamine's Effects

Report lists several contributing factors in actor's death
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2023 4:50 PM CST
Autopsy Finds Matthew Perry Died of Ketamine's Effects
A makeshift memorial for Matthew Perry in New York in October.   (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

An autopsy report released on Friday concludes that Matthew Perry died of "the acute effects of ketamine," an anesthetic. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's office listed several contributing factors, including coronary artery disease, drowning, and the effects of the opioid buprenorphine. But the autopsy found the main cause was ketamine, per the New York Times. At the levels found in the Friends star's bloodstream, the report says, "the main lethal effects would be from both cardiovascular overstimulation and respiratory depression." The star's death in October was confirmed as accidental; he was found in a hot tub at his home in Los Angeles.

In addition to being used recreationally, ketamine has become a popular alternative therapy for treating depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions. Perry, 54, was undergoing ketamine infusion therapy and had his last therapy more than a week before he died, per the Hollywood Reporter, which has seen the autopsy report. The levels in his bloodstream were far too high for that to have been his last infusion, the report says, per the Times. Buprenorphine is used to treat drug addiction and pain; the tests showed it in Perry's system at "therapeutic" levels. Evidence of sedatives was found in his blood but not alcohol, methamphetamine, or cocaine, the report said. Perry had struggled with addiction. The report said the actor had been "reportedly clean for 19 months," per the AP. (More Matthew Perry stories.)

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