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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Big pharma drugs 'linked to celeb deaths'

14th February 2012

The death of pop idol Whitney Houston has highlighted questions over the role of regular pharmaceutical drugs as a leading cause of death in the United States.


While reports said Houston drowned in her bathtub, speculation has grown that the star may also have taken prescription drugs and alcohol. The official cause of death will not be known for many weeks.

A number of celebrities, including singers and actors, have died after overdosing on prescription drugs that were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Among them were singer Michael Jackson, who died in 2010 after being given Demerol, and actor Heath Ledger in 2008.

While some individuals may have deliberately misused both prescription and illicit drugs, it is possible that their behaviour may have been influenced by taking them in the first place.

In 1962, Marilyn Monroe reportedly died after taking barbiturates, which artificially induce relaxation and sleep. Her official cause of death was "acute barbiturate poisoning".

Elvis Presley died in 1977 with a long history of prescription drug abuse, while his friend, actor Nick Adams, died in 1968 with high levels of sedatives in his bloodstream.

Nirvana lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain died of a reportedly self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head, but reports indicated after his death in 1994 that there were traces of Valium, also known as diazepam, in his blood.

Prescription drugs figured large at the scene of death of actor Chris Farley in 1997, while the autopsy revealed morphine and cocaine as the cause of death.

Model and actress Anna Nicole Smith died in 2007 after an overdose of sleeping pills, opioid painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs.

Heath Ledger had reportedly taken pharmaceuticals including Vicodin, Unisom, Restoril, Xanax, OxyContin and Valium shortly before his death.

In 2009, actress Farrah Fawcett died after her chemotherapy caused an increase of cancer and destroyed her immune system.

And while the 2011 death of singer Amy Winehouse has been linked to alcohol, official reports suggest that prescription drugs may have played a role.


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