Drug tests performed before and after Carrie Fisher’ death detected cocaine, heroin, methadone, ethanol and opiates in her system, but the drugs’ role in her death cannot be determined, according to a report released Monday by the Los Angeles County medical examiner.
“Star Wars” actress and author Fisher collapsed Dec. 23 on a flight from London to Los Angeles. She died four days later at age 60.
A blood sample taken at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center the day of her collapse also showed levels of fluoxetine (generic Prozac) and diphenhydramine, an antihistamine sold under such brand names as Dramamine, Benadryl and Sominex that causes drowsiness. It is unlikely fluoxetine or diphenhydramine contributed to her death, Dr. Cyrus Rangan, a medical toxicology consultant, wrote in the report. An electrocardiogram (EKG) at the hospital showed no evidence that she was having a heart attack.
Toxicology studies after death also found MDA, better-known as “ecstasy,” the report said.
As it had in a brief statement released Friday, the medical examiner’s department concluded that the immediate cause of Fisher’s death was “sleep apnea and other undetermined factors.” Other conditions “contributing but not related to the immediate cause of death” were “atherosclerotic heart disease, drug use,” according to the report.
“Drugs of abuse such as cocaine, heroin and amphetamine derivatives (one of which is ecstasy) are very difficult to interpret based on quantitative levels in tissue or blood postmortem (after death),” Rangan wrote. “Based on the available toxicological information, we cannot establish the significance of the multiple substances that were detected in Ms. Fisher’s blood and tissue with regard to the cause of death.”
A lack of information about Fisher’s condition before she apparently suffered cardiac arrest on the plane further limits the interpretation of the toxicology results, Rangan said.
The report says Fisher’s family objected to an autopsy, so the body could not be dissected. The L.A. County medical examiner’s office.examined the body externally and performed a whole-body CT scan, which revealed a mildly enlarged heart with age-related calcifications. The scan also showed mild shrinkage of the brain, which typically is a normal consequence of aging.
The medical examiner took samples of bile fluid, liver tissue and vitreous humor (the fluid in the eye) to be analyzed for drugs. The bile was positive for ecstasy.