The Los Angeles County medical examiner revealed that Matthew Perry, the beloved star of Friends, died from the “acute effects of ketamine.” The autopsy report, released over a month after the actor’s demise, disclosed that the 54-year-old was found unresponsive in his Los Angeles home’s pool on October 28.
The report outlined that Perry’s drowning, coupled with coronary artery disease and the impact of buprenorphine (a medication used to treat opioid use disorder), contributed to his death. Despite these factors, the primary cause was determined to be an accident.
Matthew Perry, who had candidly shared his struggles with drug addiction in a memoir published last year, was reportedly clean for 19 months. However, the autopsy report acknowledged his history of drug use.
The actor had been undergoing ketamine infusion therapy for depression and anxiety, with the most recent infusion occurring one and half weeks before his untimely death. Intriguingly, the ketamine found in his system at the time of death could not be attributed to the recent therapy, given ketamine’s short half-life of three to four hours.
Ketamine, once solely recognised as an anaesthetic, has transformed into a potential treatment for severe depression. Perry himself had been utilising ketamine infusion therapy as part of his mental health treatment.
Despite its promising antidepressant properties, ketamine’s effects are temporary, lasting only a few days or weeks. Perry’s autopsy report raises questions about how and when he received additional ketamine in the hours leading up to his death.
Scientists continue to explore ketamine’s potential applications, from treating substance use disorders to extending its antidepressant effects. However, the drug is not without risks, having gained popularity in party scenes for its hallucinogenic properties. Ketamine overdose can lead to severe symptoms, including amnesia, seizures, and dangerously slowed breathing.