Heath Ledger’s death was accidental resulting from misuse of a cocktail of pain killers, anxiety medication and sleeping pills, the New York coroner has found.
The finding prompted an immediate statement from Ledger’s family warning of the “hidden dangers” of mixing prescription drugs.
New York’s city medical examiner said “Mr Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine.
“We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications.”
While the medical examiner said that his finding was accidental death, the statement did not elaborate on “the abuse of prescription medications”.
There was no further comment in the brief formal statement.
Ledger’s body was found by a masseuse about 3pm on January 22. When she realised he was not responsive, she alerted a friend and then paramedics, but Ledger was declared dead at 3.36pm.
The actor was living in a Soho loft apartment after separating from acress Michelle Williams, who lives in Brooklyn with the couple’s daughter Matilda.
A New York police spokesman declined to comment today. He said there was no longer police involvement in the investigation which was conducted by the medical examiner.
Oxycodone, marketed as Oxycontin, and Hydrocodone marketed as Vicodon, are used to treat serious pain but have studies have also identified extensive patterns of abuse.
Diazepam and Alprazolam are sedatives used to treat anxiety and panic attacks. Temazopam is a sleeping pill and doxylamine is an antihistamine which can be used as a short term treatment for sleeplessness.
Ledger’s US-based publicist, Mara Buxbaum, immediately released a statement from Ledger’s father, Kim, requesting the media to stop speculating about what killed his son.