Since news of Matthew Perry’s death at 54, the world has been clamoring for answers. While testing has found evidence of drugs in Perry’s system, the situation is more complex than may meet the eye.
Perry was taking buprenorphine, a prescribed opioid which treats addiction, as well as ketamine, which he was receiving in a medical setting, as late as a week and a half before his death.
However, ketamine metabolizes quickly and Perry took an amount that doctors say are akin to the effects of anesthesia. The coroner’s report noted that “the ketamine in his system at death could not be from that infusion therapy, since ketamine’s half-life is 3 to 4 hours, or less.” It continued:
“At the high levels of ketamine found in his postmortem blood specimens, the main lethal effects would be from both cardiovascular overstimulation and respiratory depression.”