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Tom Petty died of an accidental prescription drug overdose, medical examiner says

(Photo: Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)

An L.A. County medical examiner has ruled that rocker Tom Petty—who died suddenly last October—was killed by an accidental overdose of prescription medication. Per Rolling Stone, Petty’s death has been ruled a “multisystem organ failure due to resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest due to mixed drug toxicity,” with a number of drugs, including oxycodone, Xanax, and Fentanyl, all having been found in his system.

Petty’s family released a statement on Facebook today, describing the constant pain he had lived in for the last several months of his life, after insisting on touring despite having suffered an increasingly debilitating hip injury. (He also suffered from knee problems and emphysema, according to the post.)


Fentanyl—an opiod frequently prescribed for pain management—has been a common factor in a number of recent and high-profile deaths; Prince, rapper Lil Peep, and Michelle McNamara, the wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, were all found with the drug in their system in the aftermaths of their deaths. Petty’s family addressed the drug’s contribution to America’s current struggles with opioid use in their statement:

As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.

Still, they noted that, at least, “We now know for certain he went painlessly and beautifully exhausted after doing what he loved the most, for one last time, performing live with his unmatchable rock band for his loyal fans on the biggest tour of his 40 plus year career. He was extremely proud of that achievement in the days before he passed.”

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