The untimely passing of actor Matthew Perry, famed for his role in the hit sitcom "Friends," has been attributed to "acute effects of ketamine" and subsequent drowning, according to an autopsy report released by the Los Angeles Medical Examiner's Office.
This revelation sheds light on the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of the 54-year-old actor.
Autopsy Report Details and Circumstances of Death
The comprehensive autopsy report, made public on Friday, indicated that Perry's blood contained high levels of ketamine, a substance typically used in treating depression and anxiety.
The report stated, “At the high levels of ketamine found in his postmortem blood specimens, the main lethal effects would be from both cardiovascular overstimulation and respiratory depression”. The incident has been classified as an accidental death.Perry was discovered floating face-down in the pool of his Malibu home on October 28. Initial investigations by authorities ruled out foul play. A spokesperson for the LA Fire Department recounted that the actor was found "unconscious in a stand-alone jacuzzi." Further details emerged from the autopsy, revealing that Perry was receiving ketamine infusion therapy for depression and anxiety.
A live-in assistant discovered Perry's unresponsive body in the pool after returning from errands. In an effort to save him, the assistant moved Perry to a sitting position on the pool steps and called 911. The autopsy report considers drowning as a contributing factor to Perry's death, likely resulting from unconscious submersion in the pool.
It also notes that the assistant did not report any recent signs of illness, alcohol consumption, or drug abuse from Perry.
The Complex Role of Ketamine in Perry's Death
Ketamine, primarily used as an anesthetic in medical settings, has shown potential in treating severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.
However, its misuse as a recreational drug is well-documented, known for causing intense highs and dissociative effects. In 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a related drug, esketamine, as a nasal spray for treatment-resistant depression.
Experts are cautious in their interpretation of the findings. Dr. Ed Boyer, a professor of emergency medicine, remarked on the high ketamine concentrations, suggesting possible misuse.
“Considering his last ketamine therapy was at least a week before, misuse – even recreational use – cannot be ruled out,” he commented.