Matthew Perry’s death investigation continues to raise more questions than answers six days after his death, according to a former medical examiner.
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner on Sunday told Fox News Digital, “An autopsy was completed today, and toxicology results are pending.”
Following reports that a toxicology screening revealed fentanyl and meth were not found in his system at the time of his death, Dr. Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner of New York City, forensic pathologist and Fox News contributor wondered why a cause of death had not yet been released.
“If Matthew Perry had died of a heart attack, that would be immediately apparent, and they would have said so,” Baden exclusively told Fox News Digital. “Where we stand now is in their relief part of the toxicology, and that indicates that for some reason they’re holding up the rest of it.”
Baden had previously told Fox News Digital, “I think from the information that’s been released, we won’t know until the toxicology is performed, given his history of problems with alcohol and drug abuse. But the fact that he was found in a hot tub raises issues immediately about drowning or even heat stroke.”
“On the basis of the information released so far, it is certainly possible that he could have died of natural causes, especially given his history of surgeries and medical emergencies,” Dr. Baden said at the time.
Initial tests indicated that neither fentanyl nor meth was found in the actor’s system at the time of his death, according to TMZ, citing law enforcement sources. Perry died Saturday after an apparent drowning in a hot tub at his home in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, law enforcement sources confirmed to Fox News Digital. He was 54.
Drugs were not reportedly found on scene and no foul play is suspected.
In his new interview with Fox News Digital, Baden said, “The two important substances to refer to is the Vicodin, which is an opioid narcotic, and alcohol, which are the two things that he, according to his biography, got into the most trouble about,” Baden said. “We have to see what happens with the further release of the toxicology, because after six days now, they know if there was any natural cause of death. If he had a heart attack, that being the most common cause of death, or heart disease.”
He added, “If that were the cause of death – and people can have heart attacks while swimming or in hot tubs – they would have known right away. And, that would be something they would have released because that would be kind to the family without delving into the drugs that he had previously had trouble with.”
The coroner initially listed “other significant conditions” as a cause of death, and said Perry’s body was “ready for release” before removing his case from the county website.
“What I would think, at this point is there’s no evidence of natural condition that would cause death,” Baden said. “We don’t know about drowning. We know he was dead when the body was found, but whether or not he inhaled water – they know, but they haven’t released yet.”
The “Friends” actor was reportedly already deceased when first responders arrived on scene to find an adult male “unconscious in a stand-alone hot tub,” according to a release provided by Captain Erik Scott. “A bystander had brought the man’s head above the water and gotten him to the edge, then firefighters removed him from the water.”
Scott added that following a “rapid medical assessment,” the man was “deceased prior to first responder arrival” and circumstances are under investigation by LAPD and the LA County Medical Examiner.
“They have a lot more information about what was present and what wasn’t present,” Baden said. “When they’re (reportedly) only releasing the two drugs that a lot of attention is paid to – fentanyl and meth – it just is curious as to why they haven’t released information about the absence of Vicodin and alcohol, which have been the ones the most pertinent to Matthew Perry’s history.”
Perry spent upwards of $9 million on his decades-long substance abuse and sobriety battle. At one point, he was taking 55 Vicodin per day, he wrote in his 2022 memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.”
He revealed he had pursued 15 stints in rehab and underwent 14 surgeries for addiction-related medical issues. Perry was also on life support for a brief period and in a coma for two weeks.
In an October 2022 interview with The New York Times, the actor said he had been sober since early 2021, and in an interview with Perry’s friend, who saw the beloved star one day before he passed, she said he was “100% sober.”
Baden told Fox News Digital, “Once the decision has been made whether there are drugs present, and are they in amounts that could cause or contribute to death, then the concern is whether or not any of these drugs under the circumstances would have caused him to drown. There has to be evidence of water in the lungs.”
“Given the fact that there might be drugs, one has to decide whether it’s accident, suicide or homicide,” Baden added. “That depends on the circumstances, the police investigation. Was he taking drugs the way he used to and therefore the death may be unintended?”
Baden guessed that investigators would be analyzing his hair follicles. While blood tests can reveal what’s happening in a body within the last few days, hair grows about half an inch a month, and Baden said could show up to eight months of history.
Perry had been candid about his addiction and sobriety journey, and previously founded Perry House, a men’s sober living facility in Malibu, California, which he ran for two years before closing the business to find an easier access location to serve more members of the community.
The “Friends” cast, which includes Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer, issued a joint statement days after Perry’s death.
“We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates. We are a family,” the statement said via People. “There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss.”