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Heath Ledger dies of accidental prescription drug overdose

Heath Ledger dies of accidental prescription drug overdose



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On January 22, 2008, Hollywood mourns a talented young actor’s life cut tragically short, after the body of 28-year-old Heath Ledger is found by his masseuse and housekeeper on the floor of his rented apartment in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City.

Best known for his Academy Award-nominated turn as the closeted gay cowboy Ennis Del Mar in the director Ang Lee’s acclaimed Brokeback Mountain (2005), Ledger was a former child actor from Australia who first became known to American audiences in the 1999 teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You. He later passed up other teen comedies and was rewarded with a big break when he landed the role of Mel Gibson’s son in the Revolutionary War drama The Patriot (2000). After appearing in the well-reviewed Monster’s Ball (2001), Ledger starred in two critical and commercial flops, A Knight’s Tale (2001) and The Four Feathers (2002). He roared back in 2005, with lead roles in no fewer than four films, including Casanova, in which he played the title role.

It was Brokeback Mountain, however, that truly made Ledger a star and earned him comparisons to acting greats such as Marlon Brando. Ledger lost the Best Actor Oscar to Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) but Brokeback Mountain cemented his reputation as an A-list actor and a fixture in the pages of celebrity-obsessed magazines. This last role–which he fulfilled uneasily–was intensified by his relationship with the actress Michelle Williams, whom he met on the set of Brokeback Mountain. The couple had a daughter, Matilda, born in October 2005, and were often photographed in various scenes of domestic bliss. In September 2007, however, Ledger and Williams announced they were separating, and Ledger moved from their house in Brooklyn to the rented SoHo apartment.

Though his personal life might have been in turmoil, Ledger’s professional life was flourishing in the months before his death. Near the end of 2007, he was in London filming Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. In addition to a role as one of several Bob Dylan alter egos in Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There, he had also recently finished work on The Dark Knight, the latest Batman film, in which Ledger played a younger version of the Joker, the villainous role originated by Jack Nicholson. In interviews that would be scrutinized exhaustively after his death, the actor admitted that the Joker role had been difficult for him and that he had been using prescription drugs to manage recurring bouts of stress and insomnia.

Soon after the masseuse and housekeeper discovered Ledger’s body, emergency crews arrived on the scene but were unable to revive him. Media speculation about his possible illegal drug use intensified over the next two weeks, until on February 8, the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office released the results of toxicology tests performed on Ledger’s body. The report stated that he died of an accidental “abuse of prescription medications” that included commonly known painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills. After memorial services in New York and Los Angeles, Ledger’s family took his body back to their native Australia; he is buried next to his grandparents, in his hometown of Perth.


Heath Ledger Died Of Accidental Overdose: Medical Examiner's Report Family Issues Statement

Actor's death was caused by acute intoxication from the combined effects of several prescription drugs.

On Wednesday (February 6), the New York medical examiner's office released the official cause of actor Heath Ledger's death: acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.

The office concluded that the manner of death was accidental, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications. The drugs, according to the medical examiner, are the generic names for the painkiller OxyContin, the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and the sleep aids Restoril and Unisom.

A representative for New York's Drug Enforcement Administration said the agency is working to determine how Ledger was able to obtain so many prescription drugs. "We are working with the NYPD to identify any illegally prescribed drugs that may have been prescribed to [Ledger]," spokesperson Erin Mulvey told People.com on Wednesday.

Heath Ledger's father, Kim, released the below statement following the announcement of Heath's cause of death, according to People.com:

"We remain humble as parents and a family, among millions of people worldwide who may have suffered the tragic loss of a child. Few can understand the hollow, wrenching and enduring agony parents silently suffer when a child predeceases them. Today's results put an end to speculation, but our son's beautiful spirit and enduring memory will forever remain in our hearts.

"While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution [of] the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage.

"Our family enjoyed an extremely happy two-week visit with Heath just prior to the New Year. Those recent precious days will stay with us forever. We as a family feel privileged to have some of his amazing magic moments captured in film. To most of the world, Heath was an actor of immeasurable talent and promise. To those who knew him personally, Heath was a consummate artist whose passions also included photography, music, chess and directing. We knew Heath as a loving father, as our devoted son, and as a loyal and generous brother and friend.

"We treasure our beautiful granddaughter Matilda (to our dear Michelle), as well as an unbelievably wonderful network of close friends, forever, around the world. Families rarely experience the uplifting, warm and massive outpouring of grief and support as have we, from every corner of the planet. This has deeply and profoundly touched our hearts and lives. We are eternally grateful.

"At this moment we respectfully request the worldwide media allow us time to grieve privately, without the intrusions associated with press and photography."

The 28-year-old actor's body was discovered inside a New York apartment on January 22. The initial autopsy report was inconclusive, and it took approximately two weeks for the medical examiner's office to conduct additional tests and to complete its investigation into the nature of Ledger's death. The results of toxicology screenings helped the office determine the specific cause of death.

Soon after Ledger's death, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters during a press conference the actor was found face down in a normal sleeping position, not at the end of a bed as had been rumored. Kelly also confirmed reports that crime-scene technicians had found a rolled-up $20 bill inside the apartment, which they collected for testing. The bill was rolled in a manner common among cocaine users, but police said no visible drug residue was found on it.

Police told reporters that there were no illegal drugs recovered from the apartment, but they said six different prescription drugs were found in the apartment, including ones to treat insomnia and anxiety, along with an antihistamine. The actor had struggled with addiction to prescription medications.

Ledger's housekeeper, Teresa Solomon, arrived at his apartment around 12:30 p.m., and police say that about a half-hour later, Solomon entered the bedroom, where she found the actor lying in bed, face down, with a sheet pulled up to his shoulders. Solomon claims she could hear Ledger snoring and left the room.

Masseuse Diana Wolozin arrived just before 3 p.m. and called her client's cell phone. When Ledger failed to answer the call, both women entered the bedroom and attempted to stir the actor from his sleep. Ledger did not respond, prompting Solomon to call Mary-Kate Olsen, a friend of Ledger's, using his phone. The housekeeper called, seeking guidance, police said. She eventually called 911 just before 3:30 p.m.

Memorial services for the actor have been held in New York and Los Angeles, and family and friends have arrived in Ledger's hometown of Perth, Australia, for his private funeral, which is expected to take place on Saturday.

For more on Heath Ledger's tragic passing, read reactions from his peers and other admirers, as well as casting directors he worked with. Also, watch Ledger talk about his evolution as an actor in a 2005 interview with MTV News.


Heath Ledger died of accidental overdose

The New York City medical examiner reported on Wednesday (Feb. 6) that actor Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, according to multiple reports. In a statement, the examiner said he died 𠇚s the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine.” Those are the generic names for drugs often marketed as brand name painkillers OxyContin and Vicodin, the anti-anxiety medications Valium and Xanax, the sleep aid Restoril, and the sedating antihistimine sleep aid Unisom. There was no explanation for why the death was determined �idental.”

TVGuide.com reported on Wednesday that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has asked for copies of Ledger’s autopsy as well as the original police report from the crime scene as part of an investigation into how he obtained the prescription drugs that led to his overdose.

Ledger’s housekeeper, along with a massage therapist, discovered his body lying face down in his Manhattan apartment on Jan. 22. Law enforcement officials said several different kinds of prescription pills were found at the scene, including pills to treat insomnia and anxiety, and an antihistamine. Police said no illegal drugs were found.

Police announced on Jan. 23, a day after the actor’s body was discovered, that an initial autopsy proved inconclusive.

Ledger earned an Oscar nomination for his performance in 2005’s Brokeback Mountain. He most recently played one of several incarnations of Bob Dylan in I’m Not There, and he will appear in the next Batman movie, The Dark Knight. The actor was working on Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, which also features Christopher Plummer, when he died last month.


Aisha Music

This is a follow up to my January 23, 2008 article titled Hollywood And Drugs regarding the death of 28-year old actor Heath Ledger, where I wrote:

“The actor also has a history of illegal drug use, namely heroin and cocaine. At the time of his death he was suffering from pneumonia, which would have created a lethal combination with the prescription drugs found in his apartment. While his autopsy was inconclusive, a variety of prescription drugs were found in his apartment.” – January 23, 2008

The article was confirmed today via the official toxicology report posted below, stating he died from an accidental prescription drug overdose. The, “Six drugs found in his system were oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine.”

I also wrote in that article: “Drugs are in abundant supply in Hollywood and frequently encouraged, regardless of age, race or sex. The government needs to crackdown on that.”

It was announced today that the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and police are looking into how Ledger obtained all those drugs. It’s not difficult, actually. Doctor shopping and willing entertainment industry lackeys are often to blame.

Coroner: “The manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications”

Pharmaceutical Industry

The pharmaceutical industry has been very irresponsible in how it markets medicine. You’ll see one commercial offering you 2-4 different medicines for your symptoms. They don’t stop to think, if a person has several symptoms, they will try several medications at once and poison their system.

You see them in the pharmacy, “Oh my nose is stuffy, I have a fever and my allergies are flaring up as well” – then they buy three different medicines at once.

It’s the same with sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication. This one didn’t work, try this one, that one didn’t work, try this one – until the patient has an arsenal of drugs they are playing with at the same time to feel better and or sleep. A tolerance to the drug(s) can develop as well, duping the patient into taking more and more.

The pharmaceutical industry needs to start telling people DON’T TAKE ALL THIS STUFF AT ONCE.

I am not against medicine, as there are good ones out there that have helped many, but I am against overmedicating people. Not only can too many pharmaceutical drugs cause respiratory failure, if you live, over time, it can destroy the kidney.

While some doctors are responsible and don’t overmedicate patients, some give them whatever they ask for, which is dangerous. However, it should be noted, there are patients that go doctor shopping and rack up numerous prescriptions.

It’s a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, with one doctor not realizing there is another one in the picture issuing prescriptions as well.

The frequently wrong TMZ, known for posting anything Hollywood tells them to, and making up stories as well.

What’s amazed me is Hollywood’s spin on his death, trying to paint him as having died from natural causes. People in the industry knew he was a drug user, yet lied to protect him anyway because of Brokeback. What kind of example did that set, not to mention further killing your credibility.

What’s ironic is, had it been a Christian actor or conservative politician that passed in this manner, they would have been very nasty, graceless and demeaning in what they would have printed. Hollywood’s double standard.

While, I don’t like Brokeback Mountain based on the trailer and what I have read in the press, I didn’t have anything personal against Ledger. Years ago I saw him on TV in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, which I don’t endorse, and thought he was good looking and charismatic. He came across as a real natural.

However, I saw him as someone taking roles he should not have, as they were disturbing. I also saw him as a man being used by Hollywood to further its gay agenda.

Hollywood used him and ran him into the ground. A heterosexual playing a gay role requiring contact, the movie comes out and he is condemned by many, but applauded by Hollywood. Then he takes disturbing roles in Dark Knight and Dr. Parnassus, further damaging his mental well being.

He turned to heavy drug use, like so many before him. He couldn’t even sleep at night anymore, as his mind and soul had gotten so restless.

Insomnia is a terrible thing. Scientists have found that people who don’t get enough sleep at night run the risk of brain damage. Over time it adds up and deteriorates the brain. It is recommended that you get 8 hours of sleep per night for good reason.


Heath Ledger died of accidental overdose

NEW YORK (AP) - Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and other prescription drugs, the New York City medical examiner said Wednesday.

The cause of death was "acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine," spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said in a statement.

The medical examiner's office only provided generic names, so it is unknown whether he took generic or brand-name drugs. Police had said they found six types of prescription drugs, including sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication, in Ledger's apartment.

Oxycodone is a painkiller marketed as OxyContin and used in other painkillers such as Percodan and Percocet hydrocodone is used in a number of painkillers, including Vicodin.

Diazepam and alprazolam are the generic names for the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and the other two drugs are sleep aids commonly sold under the brands Restoril and Unisom.

Borakove wouldn't say what concentrations of each drug were found in Ledger's blood, or whether one drug played a greater part than another in causing his death.

"What you're looking at here is the cumulative effects of these medications together," she said.

The ruling comes two weeks after the 28-year-old Australian-born actor was found dead in the bed of his rented SoHo apartment.

Ledger's family returned to the actor's hometown of Perth, Australia, on Tuesday to prepare for his funeral. Arrangements were private.

In a statement released through Ledger's publicist, the actor's father, Kim, said Wednesday: "While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."

Heath Ledger was discovered by his masseuse Jan. 22 after she arrived for an appointment that afternoon. She entered his bedroom to set up for the massage and found him unresponsive, and proceeded to call Mary-Kate Olsen three times over the next 9 minutes before dialing 911. Ledger had been dead for some time, and police say no foul play occurred. Police said they found a rolled-up $20 bill near the bed.

Ledger, nominated for an Oscar for his role in "Brokeback Mountain," had returned to New York from London, where he had been filming a $30 million Terry Gilliam film, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," days before his death. He said in a November interview that his roles in the Batman movie "The Dark Knight" and the Bob Dylan biopic "I'm Not There" had taken a toll.

"Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night," Ledger told The New York Times. "I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going." He said he had taken two Ambien pills, which only gave him an hour of sleep.


Ledger died of accidental overdose

Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and other prescription drugs, the New York City medical examiner said Wednesday.

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NEW YORK — Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and other prescription drugs, the New York City medical examiner said Wednesday.

The cause of death was “acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine,” spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said in a statement.

The medical examiner’s office only provided generic names, so it is unknown whether he took generic or brand-name drugs. Police had said they found six types of prescription drugs, including sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication, in Ledger’s apartment.

Oxycodone is a painkiller marketed as OxyContin and used in other painkillers such as Percodan and Percocet hydrocodone is used in a number of painkillers, including Vicodin.

Diazepam and alprazolam are the generic names for the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and the other two drugs are sleep aids commonly sold under the brands Restoril and Unisom.

Borakove wouldn’t say what concentrations of each drug were found in Ledger’s blood, or whether one drug played a greater part than another in causing his death.

“What you’re looking at here is the cumulative effects of these medications together,” she said.

The ruling comes two weeks after the 28-year-old Australian-born actor was found dead in the bed of his rented SoHo apartment.

Ledger’s family returned to the actor’s hometown of Perth, Australia, on Tuesday to prepare for his funeral. Arrangements were private.

In a statement released through Ledger’s publicist, the actor’s father, Kim, said Wednesday: “While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath’s accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage.”

Heath Ledger was discovered by his masseuse Jan. 22 after she arrived for an appointment that afternoon. She entered his bedroom to set up for the massage and found him unresponsive, and proceeded to call Mary-Kate Olsen three times over the next 9 minutes before dialing 911. Ledger had been dead for some time, and police say no foul play occurred. Police said they found a rolled-up $20 bill near the bed.

Ledger, nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Brokeback Mountain,” had returned to New York from London, where he had been filming a $30 million Terry Gilliam film, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” days before his death. He said in a November interview that his roles in the Batman movie “The Dark Knight” and the Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” had taken a toll.

“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” Ledger told The New York Times. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” He said he had taken two Ambien pills, which only gave him an hour of sleep.


Heath Ledger's Father Recalls Family's Last, Ominous Conversation with Him: 'He Was Warned' About Prescription Drugs

Heath Ledger‘s father Kim has revealed new details about his son’s death.

The actor, who posthumously won an Oscar in 2009 for his portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight, was found dead in his New York apartment in January 2008 due to an accidental mixture of prescription drugs. He was 28.

Recently, Kim recalled the conversation his daughter and Heath’s sister Kate had with the star the night before he died.

“The last conversation Kate had with him was this discussion about his medications and she warned him, ‘You can’t mix drugs that you don’t know anything about,’ ” Kim told news.com.au. “He said ‘Katie, Katie, I’ll be fine.’ Well, that’s a cavalier boy’s answer. It just put his whole system to sleep I guess.”

“Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Diazepam, Temazepam, Alprazolam, and Doxylamine. We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications,” New York City’s chief medical examiner had ruled.

Oxycodone is a painkiller, Hydrocodone is also known as Vicodin, Diazepam is commonly called Valium, Temazepam treats anxiety or sleeplessness, Alprazolam is known as Xanax, and Doxylamine is a sedating antihistamine often used as a sleep aid.

“It was a one-off thing. That’s what killed us, because he was warned by his sister the night before: ‘You shouldn’t mix what you’re taking for pneumonia with your Ambien.’ But most of Heath’s problems were self-induced,” Kim said of the “pressure” his son had due to his busy work schedule.

“There is pressure on everybody, especially young people, to perform and to keep going,” he continued, adding, “He was a young guy that traveled all the time for work. Even as a 2-year-old, he hardly ever slept. He was trying to work and travel and do everything in a short space of time.”

In the eight years since Heath’s death, the Ledger family has continued to raise awareness for prescription drug misuse. Kim explained that Heath did not have an addiction to opioids, but that he had made a tragic mistake.

“[He] mixed a couple of drugs together with sleeping tablets and he’s gone forever. That’s something we [himself, Kate and wife Sally] just have to deal with,” he concluded.


The Dark Knight Star Heath Ledger's Death Ruled Accidental Overdose

Toxicology report says that the actor's death was due to a combination of prescription drugs.

Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and other prescription drugs, the New York City medical examiner said Wednesday, the AP reports.

The cause of death was "acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine," spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said in a statement.

The drugs are the generic names for the painkiller OxyContin, the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and the sleep aids Restoril and Unisom. Hydrocodone is a widely used prescription painkiller.

Borakove wouldn't say what concentrations of each drug were found in Ledger's blood, or whether one drug played a greater part than another in causing his death.

"What you're looking at here is the cumulative effects of these medications together," she said.

The ruling comes two weeks after the 28-year-old Australian-born actor was found dead in the bed of his rented SoHo apartment. Police found bottles of six types of prescription drugs in his bedroom and bathroom.

Ledger's family returned to the actor's hometown of Perth, Australia, on Tuesday to prepare for his funeral. Arrangements were private.

In a statement released through Ledger's publicist, the actor's father, Kim, said Wednesday: "While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."

Ledger, nominated for an Oscar for his role in Brokeback Mountain, had returned to New York from London, where he had been filming a $30 million Terry Gilliam film, days before his death. He said in a November interview that his most recent completed roles in the Batman movie The Dark Knight and Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There had taken a toll, saying he couldn't sleep.

"Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night," Ledger told The New York Times. "I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going." He said he had taken two Ambien pills, which only gave him an hour of sleep.

TV Guide reports that the federal government is getting involved in Heath Ledger's death. The Drug Enforcement Administration has launched an investigation into how Ledger obtained the multiple prescription drugs that led to his accidental overdose. The DEA has requested copies of Ledger's autopsy as well as the original police report from the crime scene, according to local law enforcement officials.


Protocol Before Prescribing

Before prescribing drugs like those given to Ledger, Gomez says, a doctor should take a careful history, inquiring about any past drug abuse.

If a young man came to her with symptoms of anxiety and insomnia, she says, she would also try to determine how severe the anxiety and insomnia was and to get to the root of the problems. "Anxiety and insomnia are symptoms." It's crucial, she says, for a doctor to explore the reasons behind the symptoms.

She would also take into consideration other medications a patient is on before prescribing more. For instance, she says, "If someone was on painkillers already, I would monitor him more closely if I put him on Valium."


Ledger's Death Ruled Accidental Prescription Overdose

According to the New York City medical examiner’s office, Heath Ledger‘s cause of death has been determined as an accidental overdose of “painkillers, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and other prescription drugs.”

In a statement released yesterday, spokeswoman Ellen Borakove attributed Ledger’s death to “acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.” According to the Associated Press, “the drugs are the generic names for the painkiller OxyContin, the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and the sleep aids Restoril and Unisom.”

Although Ledger’s death is being ruled an accidental overdose, it’s being stressed that he apparently didn’t take more of any of the listed medications than he was supposed to as Borakove puts it, “What you’re looking at here is the cumulative effects of these medications together.” Ledger’s family released the following statement in response to the news:

“While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath’s accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage.”


Ledger died of accidental overdose

Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and other prescription drugs, the New York City medical examiner said Wednesday.

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NEW YORK — Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and other prescription drugs, the New York City medical examiner said Wednesday.

The cause of death was “acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine,” spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said in a statement.

The medical examiner’s office only provided generic names, so it is unknown whether he took generic or brand-name drugs. Police had said they found six types of prescription drugs, including sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication, in Ledger’s apartment.

Oxycodone is a painkiller marketed as OxyContin and used in other painkillers such as Percodan and Percocet hydrocodone is used in a number of painkillers, including Vicodin.

Diazepam and alprazolam are the generic names for the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and the other two drugs are sleep aids commonly sold under the brands Restoril and Unisom.

Borakove wouldn’t say what concentrations of each drug were found in Ledger’s blood, or whether one drug played a greater part than another in causing his death.

“What you’re looking at here is the cumulative effects of these medications together,” she said.

The ruling comes two weeks after the 28-year-old Australian-born actor was found dead in the bed of his rented SoHo apartment.

Ledger’s family returned to the actor’s hometown of Perth, Australia, on Tuesday to prepare for his funeral. Arrangements were private.

In a statement released through Ledger’s publicist, the actor’s father, Kim, said Wednesday: “While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath’s accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage.”

Heath Ledger was discovered by his masseuse Jan. 22 after she arrived for an appointment that afternoon. She entered his bedroom to set up for the massage and found him unresponsive, and proceeded to call Mary-Kate Olsen three times over the next 9 minutes before dialing 911. Ledger had been dead for some time, and police say no foul play occurred. Police said they found a rolled-up $20 bill near the bed.

Ledger, nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Brokeback Mountain,” had returned to New York from London, where he had been filming a $30 million Terry Gilliam film, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” days before his death. He said in a November interview that his roles in the Batman movie “The Dark Knight” and the Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” had taken a toll.

“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” Ledger told The New York Times. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” He said he had taken two Ambien pills, which only gave him an hour of sleep.