Brit­tany Mur­phy's death ac­ci­den­tal from pnu­mo­nia; pre­scrip­tion drugs a fac­tor


LOS AN­GE­LES — Brit­tany Mur­phy died from pneu­mo­nia, but ane­mia and pre­scrip­tion drugs also played a role, coroner’s of­fi­cials said Thurs­day.

The pri­mary cause of death was com­mu­nity-ac­quired pneu­mo­nia, with con­tribut­ing fac­tors of iron de­fi­ciency ane­mia and “mul­ti­ple drug in­tox­i­ca­tion,” ac­cord­ing to the Los An­ge­les County coroner’s of­fice. The death was ruled ac­ci­den­tal. Coroner’s spokesman Craig Har­vey de­clined to spec­ify what types of drugs were in­volved but said they were all pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions. De­tails about the drugs the Clue­less and 8 Mile star had in her sys­tem will be re­leased in sev­eral weeks when a com­plete re­port is done.

Mur­phy died Dec. 20 at age 32 af­ter col­laps----

Brit­tany Mur­phy ing at her Hol­ly­wood Hills home. Her mother and hus­band have said the ac­tress didn’t abuse pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions or have an eat­ing dis­or­der.

At­tempts to reach them for fur­ther com­ment were not im­me­di­ately suc­cess­ful Thurs­day.

Mur­phy’s hus­band, Si­mon Mon­jack, and mother, Sharon Mur­phy, told in­ves­ti­ga­tors the ac­tress had been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing flu-like symp­toms in the days be­fore she died.

Mon­jack told The As­so­ci­ated Press 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,” 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 Baden, who did not work on the Mur­phy case but has served as an ex­pert wit­ness in nu­mer­ous high­pro­file 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 ane­mia may have played in Mur­phy’s death.

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