BY LIZZIE SMITH
The London Daily Mail
Actress Brittany Murphy died from pneumonia, with intoxication from prescription drugs contributing to her death.
The Clueless and 8 Mile star was found dead aged 32 on December 20 after collapsing at her Hollywood Hills home on suffering cardiac arrest.
Pneumonia was the primary cause of her death, with contributing factors of iron deficiency anaemia and ‘multiple drug intoxication,’ according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
The death was ruled to have been accidental.
Coroner’s spokesman Craig Harvey refused to list which drugs were involved, but said they were all prescription.
Details about the drugs Murphy had in her system will be released in several weeks when a complete report is completed.
Murphy’s mother and husband have insisted the actress didn’t abuse prescription medications or have an eating disorder.
Photographs of Murphy’s last red carpet appearance in early December showed the actress in a sleeveless dress with rail-thin arms and legs.
Her husband, Simon Monjack, and mother, Sharon Murphy, told investigators the actress had been experiencing flu-like symptoms in the days before she died.
Monjack said last month that his wife did take several prescriptions, including an anti-seizure drug, but did not abuse the medications.
He said she had been taking over-the-counter Robitussin for her recent sickness.
A memorial for a foundation in Brittany Murphy’s name that had been planned for Thursday was abruptly cancelled with no explanation.
Dr Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner in New York City, said the coroner’s determination indicated drugs probably played a key role in Murphy’s death.
‘If she died of pneumonia, that cause of death is a natural cause,’ Dr Baden said.
He said the use of some prescription medications can lead to pneumonia, and that the coroner’s office may have listed that as the primary cause to lessen the blow to Murphy’s family.
‘It sounds more like it’s a drug-related than a natural pulmonary pneumonia,’ said Dr Baden, who did not work on Murphy’s case but has served as an expert witness in numerous high-profile deaths.
He said the quantities and types of drugs Murphy was taking is key to understanding how she died, as well as how recently she saw a doctor.
‘One doesn’t die of pneumonia, usually, that quickly,’ Baden said.
He also downplayed the role anaemia may have played in Murphy’s death.
Sources involved in the autopsy told TMZ, the news website that first reported the autopsy findings, that her death was ‘preventable’.
‘L.A. County Coroner officials believe Brittany’s condition was ‘treatable’ but no one took her to the hospital in time,’ TMZ claimed.
‘As for the multiple drugs found in her system, we’re told they were both prescription, including medicine for cramps, and over-the-counter medications, including cough syrup.
‘Our sources say the drugs “pushed her over the line” but the underlying problems were the pneumonia and anaemia.
‘In other words, Brittany was really sick, didn’t get treatment and by self-medicating it pushed her over the line.’
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