Matthew Perry’s toxicology findings unveil the cause of death as the immediate impact of ketamine

The autopsy report released on Friday by the Los Angeles County medical examiner states that Matthew Perry, the beloved star of the “Friends” sitcom, succumbed to the “acute effects of ketamine.” Perry, 54, was discovered unresponsive at his residence on Oct. 28, floating face down in the heated end of the pool, as outlined in the autopsy report. The report deems the death accidental, with no suspicion of foul play. The cause of death is attributed to the “acute effects of ketamine,” with contributing factors including “drowning, coronary artery disease, and buprenorphine effects” (Buprenorphine is a medication used to treat opioid use disorder).

On the morning of his demise, Perry played pickleball around 11 a.m. before returning home two hours later, according to witness statements included in police reports accompanying the autopsy. His assistant went out for errands shortly after Perry’s return, marking the last sighting of the actor alive. Upon the assistant’s return, Perry was found deceased, and police pronounced him dead at 4:17 p.m., according to the report.

Perry was transported to the Forensic Science Center just past midnight on Oct. 29, where his autopsy was conducted later that day.

The autopsy report notes Perry’s long-standing struggle with addiction, although he had reportedly been clean for 19 months. Perry had been undergoing ketamine infusion therapy for depression and anxiety, with the last treatment occurring a week and a half before his death. Witnesses told police that Perry had responded positively to treatment and was in good spirits.

Ketamine, approved by the FDA as an anesthetic since the 1970s, has shown promise in treating depression and anxiety under medical supervision. However, experts highlight its dissociative and hallucinogenic effects, with the drug known for its use in nightclub and party culture. The DEA warns of the potential dangers, including unconsciousness and dangerously slowed breathing in the case of an overdose.

While trace amounts of ketamine were found in Perry’s stomach, the coroner revealed elevated levels in his blood (3.54 micrograms per milliliter). The Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that Perry’s cause of death was not linked to his previous infusion therapy, given the drug’s short half-life of 3 to 4 hours. Instead, the report suggests that Perry ingested ketamine through an unknown method.

Matthew Perry gained fame for his role as Chandler Bing on “Friends,” captivating audiences with his eccentricities. His rise to stardom on the show, which aired for ten seasons from 1994 to 2004, made him a fan favorite.

In his memoir, “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing,” released last year, Perry candidly addressed his struggles with addiction, emphasizing the disease’s nature. He urged those facing addiction to seek help and avoid self-blame, reiterating this perspective in a 2015 interview with Some News.

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