Matthew Perry's Death Is Being Investigated by the DEA and LAPD

Matthew Perry's death was ruled an accident, but authorities want to find out why he had so much ketamine in his system.


May 22 2024, Published 9:57 a.m. ET

Matthew Perry at the GQ Men of the Year event in 2022.
Source: Getty Images

More than six months after Matthew Perry's death, news broke that the DEA and LAPD were launching a joint investigation into the circumstances surrounding it. An autopsy revealed that Matthew died on Oct. 28, 2023, from the acute effects of ketamine.

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"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,” the autopsy report said. Now, many want to learn more about why an investigation has been launched and what authorities are hoping to learn from it.

Matthew Perry at the 2017 TCA Winter tour.
Source: Getty Images
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Why is there an investigation into Matthew Perry's death?

At the time, Matthew's death was ruled an accident. The autopsy report listed drowning, coronary artery disease, and buprenorphine as other elements that contributed to his death.

However, the LAPD and DEA are now investigating how Matthew came to have so much ketamine in his system and possession in general. He had been undergoing ketamine infusion therapy, which is said to help with drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and a variety of other related conditions.

His last session was a week and a half before his death, and according to his autopsy, that ketamine couldn't have still been in his system. “The ketamine in his system at death could not be from that infusion therapy since ketamine’s half-life is three to four hours or less," the report explained.

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Matthew was open about his ketamine use.

In addition to openly discussing his struggles with drug abuse and addiction, Matthew was also open about his use of ketamine as a treatment. In his memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, he said that the ketamine could be an intense experience.

“I often thought that I was dying during that hour," he said. "Oh, I thought, this is what happens when you die. Yet I would continually sign up for this s--t because it was something different, and anything different is good.”

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He also compared using the drug to being “hit in the head with a giant happy shovel." Now, authorities are looking into exactly where the ketamine that Matthew had in his system came from.

Matthew was found unresponsive and floating face down in a hot tub at his home in Los Angeles. The L.A. County Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy at the time, and released that report in December.

Matthew's death was a tragic end to his story.

During his time on Friends and afterward, Matthew struggled with addiction. He was open about that struggle and his recovery. Ketamine therapy seems to have been one of the methods by which Matthew tried to treat his addiction, and it's clear from his writing that he was willing to try just about anything.

While it may be some time before the investigation yields results, it won't change the ultimate reality of what happened to Matthew. And, for those who loved Matthew and his work, his death will remain a tragedy.

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