Legendary rocker Tom Petty passed away recently, on October 2, 2017 of cardiac arrest in his home in California. Now, some three months later, an autopsy has revealed the true cause of death to be accidental overdose on prescription medications.
“Petty had a mixture of fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetylfentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl in his system. The musician,66, was found unconscious and in cardiac arrest at his Malibu home on Oct. 3 and died at the UCLA Medical Center that evening.” [Source]
A social media post by his wife and daughter reveals this information and offers insight into what Petty was going through medically at the time of his death.
“Our family sat together this morning with the Medical Examiner – Coroner’s office and we were informed of their final analysis that Tom Petty passed away due to an accidental drug overdose as a result of taking a variety of medications.
Unfortunately Tom’s body suffered from many serious ailments including emphysema, knee problems and most significantly a fractured hip.
Despite this painful injury he insisted on keeping his commitment to his fans and he toured for 53 dates with a fractured hip and, as he did, it worsened to a more serious injury.
On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over use of medication.
We knew before the report was shared with us that he was prescribed various pain medications for a multitude of issues including Fentanyl patches and we feel confident that this was, as the coroner found, an unfortunate accident.
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.
On a positive note 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.
We continue to mourn with you and marvel at Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ incredible positive impact on music and the world. And we thank you all for your love and support over the last months.
Thank you also for respecting the memory of a man who was truly great during his time on this planet both publicly and privately.
We would be grateful if you could respect the privacy of the entire Heartbreaker family during this difficult time.
Dana Petty and Adria Petty” [Source]
A Repeating Pattern
While his family is quick to point out that this was an unfortunate accident brought on by Petty’s severe pain, there is an underlying pattern here that is often underrepresented in the media. Overdoses of prescription medications, especially opioids, are now a leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
Opioids (including prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl) killed more than 42,000 people in 2016, more than any year on record. 40% of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. In 2016, 40% all opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid.” [CDC]
In 2016, the Artist Prince died, and according to medical examiners, his death was the accidental result of overuse of the pharmaceutical opioid fentanyl, also used by Petty.
Fentanyl is being blamed for a dramatic rise in opioid related overdoses, which has evolved into a full blown national health crisis.
“Fentanyl, prescribed by doctors for cancer treatment, can be made illicitly and is blamed for a spike in overdose deaths in the United States. It’s 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin and 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.” [Source]
We are slowly realizing that the flood of deadly synthetic opioids is a genuine conspiracy, and a number of cases have emerged recently involving pharmaceutical executives and schemes to bribe doctors into over-prescribing these medications in order to create drug-dependent addicts, or repeat customers.
In a case like this one involving an incredible talent, we are reminded again of how severe this national crisis has become.