MDs Cleared of Wrongdoing in Ledger Death

DEA determined two doctors lawfully provided prescriptions to Heath Ledger.

ByABC News
February 29, 2008, 2:18 PM

Feb. 29, 2008— -- A California doctor and a doctor in Houston, Tex. have been cleared of any wrongdoing in connection with their prescription of painkillers to actor Heath Ledger, who died from a drug overdose after he ingested a lethal cocktail of painkillers, anti-anxiety medicine and sleeping pills.

The doctors had been under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) until it was determined that the manner in which they prescribed medications to Ledger was lawful.

The DEA reviewed the doctors' records and questioned them in order to arrive at that conclusion.

Thursday, DEA agents grilled the two doctors in Texas and California. In the days after Ledger's Jan. 22 death, the DEA subpoenaed New York Police Department records and the city's medical examiner's report, federal and city officials told ABC News at that time.

Agents used those records to examine where Ledger had obtained his medications, which included painkillers, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs. They are now questioning the doctors and examining the doctors' records to determine whether the medications for Ledger were improperly prescribed.

"Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine," the spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office, Ellen Borakove, said in a statement released on Feb. 6.

According to the medical examiner's office, Ledger took "prescribed therapeutic doses...or less" of each medication he ingested. The medications, however, were not meant to be taken together. The cumulative effect was that the actor's brain stem function that controls breathing was impaired, and Ledger "fell asleep and never woke up."

Ledger, 28, was found dead in his downtown Manhattan apartment with bottles of prescription drugs nearby.

"We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications," said the medical examiner.