Brittany Murphy dead at 32 – Anemia, pneumonia, and yes, drugs…

Toxicology update

Well, it seems the toxicology reports are in and Brittany’s death was, at least partially, caused by her taking of multiple prescription drugs. Still, it seems that she was trying to medicate a host of conditions brought on by her underlying anemia and pneumonia. It’s sad to think that this death could have likely been prevented had she simply taken better care of herself and gone to seek emergency care rather than loading her body with those pills. Unfortunately, this seems to be another in a string of medically preventable deaths… Sad.

Original post:

Brittany Murphy, the actress from “Clueless,” and “8 Mile” died last night at Cedars-Sinai in Beverly Hills at the age of 32. Brittany has been rumored to be suffering from severe eating disorders, and recent pictures seem to support that notion. Given that she apparently died from cardiac arrest, I’m wondering if drugs (even prescription drugs) played a role in the death as well… I’ll keep updating the story as more becomes available.

My heart goes out to her family and friends. Certainly a loss suffered far too early.

UPDATE: According to the police report, a number of prescription drugs were discovered in Brittany’s bedroom including (read past the list for my take on this):

  1. Topamax –  While TMZ reported this drug to be used as anti-seizure medication, it is also used to reduce weight-gain associated with the use of many other prescription drugs on this list. Lastly, it is considered to be a mood stabilizer.
  2. Methylprednisolone – An anti-inflammatory that may be used to treat bronchial infections
  3. Prozac – A commonly prescribed SSRI anti-depression med.
  4. Klonopin – A benzodiazepine anti-anxiety prescription medication that is also used to help with insomnia. Like most benzos, the probability of overdose is low if used properly, but overdose would lead to cardiac arrest.
  5. Carbamazepine – Another anti-convulsant mood stabilizer often used to treat bipolar disorder. This prescription drug can be very dangerous when combined with other medications due to its actions on GABA and extensive alteration of Sodium channel activity. It is also a bipolar med.
  6. Ativan – Once again a benzodiazepine that is often used to treat anxiety and insomnia.
  7. Vicoprofen – A pain reliever that includes an opioid (it sounds like vicodin for a reason).
  8. Propranolol – Prescription med used to treat hypertension and as an alternative, less habit-forming anti-anxiety drug.
  9. Biaxin – An antibiotic.
  10. Hydrocodone – Same as Vicoprofen, an analgesic (pain reducing) prescription drug.

What do I think killed Brittany?

With 2 benzodiazepine medications, 2 opiates, and antidepressant, and a drug that is made to lower one’s heart pressure, it’s no wonder that Brittany was found not breathing. I’m going to wait until the final toxicology report to draw a definite conclusion, but from this list, it seems highly likely that a dangerous combination of these prescription drugs was taken, which resulted in Brittany’s heart stopping. Even when taken at their prescribed strengths, these medication, when combined, can form a lethal cocktail.

You should ALWAYS check with your doctor regarding interactions between different prescriptions you’re taking, especially when those medications haven’t all been prescribed by the same physician!

12 responses to “Brittany Murphy dead at 32 – Anemia, pneumonia, and yes, drugs…”

  1. It’s not unusual for anorexics to die from heart problems. Years of starvation damages the heart and there can be electrolyte imbalances that lead to fatal heart arrthymias. Whatever the case, it’s very sad.I enjoyed her work – she could be quite charming.

  2. […] Brittany Murphy dead at 32 – Eating disorders, drugs, or… |… ( – December 20, 2009Brittany Murphy, the actress from Clueless, and 8 Mile died last night at Cedars-Sinai in Beverly Hills at the age of 32. Brittany has been rumored to be. more Brittany Murphy Dead Drugs blog posts … […]

  3. How can you comment on what you think killed Brittany? Are you a doctor? Did you perform the autopsy? Have you seen the actual report?

    From what i read she was very sick with a condition that people die from all the time and are not accused of being killed by drug use.

    No illicit or illegal drugs were found in her system. The medication that WAS found in her system was over the counter cold medicines, and medication that had been prescribed by her doctor.

    Have a bit of respect for a talented young woman who was taken from this world way too early. Your amatuer diagnosis is uncalled for.

      Jackie, I understand the loss and your frustration with it. Still, you might want to know something about me or the topic before making such silly, pseudo-condescending comments. No, I did not perform the autopsy, not that it would have mattered since the toxicology report determined the cause of death in this case. I haven’t seen the actual report either, but guess what, I can still make an educated guess – Want to know why???

      If you would have read anything other than the little bit you wanted to rail against, you’d have learned that I’m approx 6 months away from yes, wait for it, becoming a doctor who specializes, in, wait again, drugs!!!

      The post talked about her anemia and pneumonia and commented that some better medical care would have saved her. Still, all reports I’ve read assert that the combination of over-the-counter and prescription drugs in her system took her over the edge and most likely brought-on her death.

      And one last, very important, point for me to make here – More than 200,000 visits to emergency rooms around the country each year are because of prescription drug abuse. Thousands of deaths are caused annually in the U.S. (not sure about NZ, where you’re from).
      Let me make this point again: DRUGS DO NOT HAVE TO BE ILLICIT TO BE DANGEROUS!!!

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