Brittany Murphy died from pneumonia, but anemia and prescription drugs also played a role, Los Angeles County 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 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’s widower, Simon Monjack, previously told US magazine that his wife took the painkiller Vicoprofen and Fluoxetine, an antidepressant to treat menstrual cramps, as well as over-the-counter Robitussin for her last illness.
Murphy died Dec. 20 at age 32 after collapsing at her Hollywood Hills home, which she shared with Monjack and her mother, Sharon Murphy. Both told investigators the actress had been experiencing flulike symptoms in the days before she died.
Dr. Michael Baden, 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 high-profile deaths. “One doesn’t die of pneumonia, usually, that quickly.”
Assistant chief coroner Ed Winter told People magazine that Monjack said both he and Sharon Murphy were recovering from illness before Brittany Murphy “caught it.”