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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Even at low dosage: Fatal overdose of prescription drugs for Heath Ledger

The actor Heath Ledger died accidentally from "the abuse of prescription medications" – six kinds of painkillers, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs – according to the New York City’s Medical Examiner's office. Heath, a star of "Brokeback Mountain," had been found dead in his SoHo apartment on Jan. 22.

The narcotics oxycodone (the main ingredient in OxyContin) and hydrocodone (the main ingredient in Vicodin), and the drugs diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), temazepam (Restoril), and doxylamine (in certain sleeping pills and cold medicines) were found in his system.

"It's the combination of the drugs that caused the problem, not necessarily too much of any particular drug," said a spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner’s office.

Heath's father, Kim Ledger, said "we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."

Dr. Vatsal Thakkar, a psychiatrist at New York University Medical Center voiced a concern that some of the drugs Heath had taken could have built up in his body.

Advice to those taking several prescription drugs: Check here (for free) to ensure they do not have dangerous drug-drug interactions.

Browse for similar stories in our index at the very bottom of this page, or read a similar celebrity’s story.

Thanks to James Barron for the source story in today's NY Times.

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