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Matthew Perry cause of death revealed

‘Friends’ star’s cause of death had originally been ‘deferred’ after a postmortem showed no signs of meth or fentanyl in his system

Inga Parkel
Saturday 16 December 2023 01:14 GMT
Watch Matthew Perry's most iconic Friends scenes

Matthew Perry’s cause of death has been revealed following the sudden passing of the Friends star in October. He was 54.

The actor, who shot to fame with his portrayal of Chandler Bing on the hit NBC sitcom, was found dead in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home on 28 October.

His cause of death was originally “deferred” after an initial postmortem showed no signs of meth or fentanyl in his system. A conclusive update was not expected for “four to six months”, with further tests underway, according to November reports.

On 15 December, however, the Los Angeles Medical Examiner’s Office released the final toxicology report, with Perry’s cause of death listed as “acute effects of ketamine”, according to ABC News. His death was ruled an accident.

He had been on ketamine infusion therapy, the autopsy states, but the ketamine found in his system at the time of death could not have been from his most recent therapy session, which he had received about a week and a half before his death.

“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 autopsy said.

Ketamine has become an increasingly popular anesthetic used as an alternative to treat depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other hard-to-treat mental health problems. The powerful medication is also used recreationally.

Matthew Perry death ruled accident from ‘acute effects of ketamine’ (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)

Drowning, coronary artery disease and buprenorphine effects were also listed as contributing factors related to his cause of death. Buprenorphine is a synthetic opioid used to treat pain and opioid use disorder.

Perry had struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for many years, writing candidly about his journey towards sobriety in his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.

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“Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead,” reads the opening line. “If you like, you can consider what you’re about to read to be a message from the beyond, my beyond.”

In an interview with The New York Times ahead of the book’s release, Perry disclosed that he had spent “$9m [£7.4m] or something trying to get sober”.

By June 2022, following 15 stints in rehab and therapy sessions, he described himself as “pretty healthy” and said he was motivated to help others struggling with addiction. He founded Perry House, a sober living facility for men, which he ran out of his old Malibu beach home from 2013 until 2015.

At the time of his death, Friends creator Marta Kauffman said he was sober. “He seemed better than I had seen in a while. I was so thrilled to see that. He was emotionally in a good place, he looked good, he quit smoking,” she told TODAY show’s Hoda Kotb in an interview after Perry’s death.

“He was happy and chipper. He didn’t seem weighed down by anything. He was in a really good place, which is why this seems so unfair,” Kauffman added.

If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, you can seek confidential help and support 24-7 from Frank, by calling 0300 123 6600, texting 82111, sending an email or visiting their website here.

In the US, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP.

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