Tom Petty died in October after a "multisystem organ failure" caused by an accidental prescription drug overdose, according to the Office of the Los Angeles Medical Examiner-Coroner. In statement posted to Petty's official website, his family wrote that the songwriter and singer had been struggling with a number of "serious ailments"—chiefly a fractured hip—that led to doctors prescribing him with opioids.
"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," the statement read.
An autopsy found that Petty had a number of drugs in his system at the time of his death: fentanyl, oxycodone, emazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetyl fentanyl, and despropionyl fentanyl
Prince died in 2016 after an accidental overdose on fentanyl; he too had been suffering from hip pain. The rapper Lil Peep also had the drug in his system when he died last November at age 21. The Drug Enforcement Agency estimates that Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate, is 50 times more potent than heroin. It is now the leading killer in America's growing opiate crisis. A New York Times study last year revealed that fentanyl deaths went up 540% between 2013 and 2016 alone.
In their statement, Petty's family wrote that they wanted their statement to be a part of the conversation around opiate addiction more broadly. "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," they wrote. "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."
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