LAPD Launch Investigation Into Matthew Perry’s Fatal Ketamine Dose

An investigation is underway to determine the details of how Matthew Perry acquired the ketamine that led to his death.

DoubleBlind Mag

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Updated May 31, 2024

Authorities are investigating the death of Matthew Perry, the actor who played Chandler Bing on the hit TV show Friends, who died due to the “acute effects” of ketamine in the latter half of 2023. Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officials told the LA Times that the inquiry is focused on determining how the actor obtained the drug.

On October 28, 2023, Perry was discovered floating face-down in the pool at his Pacific Palisades home in Los Angeles, CA. The LA County medical examiner reported finding trace amounts of ketamine, a drug occasionally used for depression treatment, in Perry’s stomach. However, his autopsy report revealed that the ketamine levels in his blood were consistent with the amount typically administered for general anesthesia.

The LAPD, in collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the US Postal Service, is now investigating how Perry obtained such a large amount of ketamine. Captain Scot Williams of the Robbery-Homicide Division informed the LA Times on Tuesday about the probe, which was initially reported by TMZ.

READ: Matthew Perry’s Death Proves We Don’t Know Much About Ketamine

According to the medical examiner, the ketamine in Perry’s system led to cardiovascular overstimulation and respiratory depression. There are alternative perspectives about the medical examiner’s statement, however. In a story DoubleBlind reported about this issue, some experts believe that Perry would still be alive had he not been in a pool, as it is highly unlikely to consume a lethal amount of ketamine orally.

Aside from the ketamine and drowning, coronary artery disease and the effects of buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid-use disorder, were included in the medical examiner’s report as contributing factors to his death. 

In the actor’s 2022 memoir, Perry revealed that he started abusing substances at the age of 14 and secured the role on Friends 10 years later. He said that the fame he gained from the show exacerbated his reliance on alcohol and drugs. He also mentioned that he once consumed nearly five dozen pills daily.

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The medical examiner reported that Perry had been receiving ketamine infusion therapy every other day for a while, though he had recently decreased the frequency. His last known infusion was approximately a week and a half before his death.

The medical examiner stated that the ketamine detected in Perry’s system at the time of his death could not have come from the earlier infusions, as the drug typically becomes undetectable within three to four hours after administration.

According to his autopsy report, Perry played pickleball around 11 am that morning, and his live-in assistant last saw him at 1:37 p.m.

When the assistant returned to Perry’s home on Blue Sail Drive, they found him floating in the water. The assistant immediately jumped in, pulled Perry’s head out of the water, and called 911.

Paramedics arrived shortly after and moved Perry onto the grass, where he was pronounced dead.

The autopsy report indicated that Perry had no other drugs in his system and had been sober from opioids, other pills, and alcohol for 19 months at the time of his death. Additionally, no illicit drugs or paraphernalia were found at his home.

READ: Woman Dies at Mushroom Retreat in Australia

The medical examiner additionally mentioned that Perry, aged 54, was diabetic and was afflicted by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition characterized by airflow obstruction and breathing difficulties. He had previously maintained a habit of smoking two packs of cigarettes per day.

A coroner’s investigator spoke with someone close to Perry, who described him as being in “good spirits.” The individual also mentioned that Perry had quit smoking two weeks before his death and was gradually reducing his ketamine intake.

In 2006, the National Institute of Mental Health found that an intravenous dose of ketamine demonstrated rapid antidepressant effects. Over 300 clinical trials conducted since then consistently confirm that ketamine acts much faster than traditional antidepressants and can alleviate depression for periods lasting from days to weeks.

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DoubleBlind is a trusted resource for news, evidence-based education, and reporting on psychedelics. We work with leading medical professionals, scientific researchers, journalists, mycologists, indigenous stewards, and cultural pioneers. Read about our editorial policy and fact-checking process here.

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DoubleBlind Magazine does not encourage or condone any illegal activities, including but not limited to the use of illegal substances. We do not provide mental health, clinical, or medical services. We are not a substitute for medical, psychological, or psychiatric diagnosis, treatment, or advice. If you are in a crisis or if you or any other person may be in danger or experiencing a mental health emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency resources. If you are considering suicide, please call 988 to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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