Billy Mays autopsy reveals cocaine levels

By chillinwill · Aug 8, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    TAMPA, Fla. - An official autopsy report released Friday found that cocaine use contributed to the heart disease that suddenly killed TV pitchman Billy Mays in June, but his family called the finding "speculative" and considered getting an independent look at the results.

    The Hillsborough County medical examiner's office previously determined that the bearded, boisterous TV spokesman had a heart attack in his sleep. His wife found him unresponsive in bed in their Tampa condo June 28.

    Mays, 50, was a pop-culture fixture with his energetic commercials pitching gadgets and cleaning products like Orange Glo and OxiClean.

    While heart disease was the primary cause of death, a report released Friday by the medical examiner listed cocaine as a "contributory cause of death."

    The medical examiner "concluded that cocaine use caused or contributed to the development of his heart disease, and thereby contributed to his death," the office said in a press release.

    Family 'extremely disappointed'
    The office said Mays last used cocaine in the few days before his death but was not under the influence of the drug when he died. Hillsborough County spokeswoman Lori Hudson said nothing in the toxicology report indicated the frequency of Mays' cocaine use.

    "We were totally unaware of any non-prescription drug usage and are actively considering an independent evaluation of the autopsy results," Mays' family said in a statement.

    The statement said the family was "extremely disappointed" by the release of the information by the medical examiner's office. The report "contains speculative conclusions that are frankly unnecessary and tend to obscure the conclusion that Billy suffered from chronic, untreated hypertension, which only demonstrates how important it is to regularly monitor one's health."

    Cocaine can raise the arterial blood pressure, directly cause thickening of the left wall of the ventricle and accelerate the formation of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries, the release said.

    Tests show painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs
    The toxicology tests also showed therapeutic amounts of painkillers hydrocodone, oxycodone and tramadol, as well as anti-anxiety drugs alprazolam and diazepam. Mays had suffered hip problems and was scheduled for hip-replacement surgery the day after he was found dead.

    Longtime friend and colleague AJ Khubani, founder and CEO of the "As Seen on TV" product company Telebrands, said Mays never exhibited any signs of drug use and was always prepared for his many commercial shoots.

    "I'm just shocked," Khubani said. "He was the model of a responsible citizen."

    Mays, a McKees Rocks, Pa., native, developed his style demonstrating knives, mops and other "As Seen on TV" gadgets on Atlantic City's boardwalk. For years he worked as a hired gun on the state fair and home show circuits, attracting crowds with his booming voice and genial manner.

    He got his start on TV on the Home Shopping Network and then branched out into commercials and infomercials. He developed such a strong following that he became the subject of a reality TV series, Discovery Channel's "Pitchmen."

    August 7, 2009

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  1. Mickeld
    This is pretty interesting results. But the question I have is how can having Tramadol, hydrocodone, AND oxycodone in your systme be considered THERAPUTIC amounts? Dont' doctors just prescribe one opiate at a time to kill pain?
  2. oshngrl
    No they don't in fact it is quite common for long term pain sufferers to be prescribed multiple for sleep, one for depression, one for anxiety, one or two for pain and so on. And do we know if he was doctor shopping? wonder the guy was shouting.
  3. cra$h
    Not really surprised to see he was a coke user, but what I wanna know is how frequent? He could have been a social user, or a full-blown addict. It's really ashame to see this happen to the guy. A heart attack is an acceptable death, but now that his cocaine use has been exposed, people view it in such a more negitive matter. For all we know, he could have used mild amounts of cocaine to overcome the sedation of the painkillers and anti anxiety meds and keep him his pitchman self.
  4. MisterV
    As we dont know how frequent the usage was, as cra$h already said
    its difficult to say if it lead to the death in any way.

    Tramadol and cocaine shouldnt be used at the same time. And that coacaine can stress the heart which could probably be in bad health status is known as well.

    The prescription of potent painkillers with benzos is risky too, SWIM thinks Heath Ledger died from the same combination.
  5. cra$h
    Well, obviously the cocaine didn't help. And as far as I'm aware, as long as it's not IV use, opiates can't cause a heart attack. BUT, the possibility is there that the opiates killed Mays, and not the cocaine. He could have taken way too much, mixed with other downers, and his heart was slowed down too much once he fell asleep. For all we know, he could have been taking his perscriptions as recomended, had a couple drinks, and hit up some blow. They didn't mention alcohol, but I think it's definitly a possibility. Then this lethal mix of downers plus the stress of uppers had Mays exhausted by the time he slept and his heart rate was depressed to the point of cardiac arrest.

    The alcohol is a hypothesis with no factual evidence, I'm just pointing out a possibility
  6. oxyhydro
    Yea as much as I liked his commercials I am pretty convinced that he was a pretty hardcore drug user, scientific toxicology test don't really have much room for error and I'm sure the doctors were extra careful because hes a celebrity and shit..
  7. missparkles
    I doubt this fact would have made the doc more careful. Some docs love the kudos prescribing to celebrities gives them.
    I think for anyone to use such a range of uppers and downers (and cocaine) is an indication of the lifestyle they have, a drug for every occasion. He might have had a legitimate use for some of these substances, but this man wasn't stupid, he must have known the risks. But like a lot of people they think their celebrity status can prevent, or solve all problems, including addiction.
    Sparkles is sad this man has slipped of the hook. She's even more saddened that this will be used for propaganda purposes to highlight (lie to the public) just how bad coke is.
    She would like to see the use of multiple meds (prescribed by a doc) reviewed because of this. That's what really kills people. No drug, used responsibly (supervised if necessary), is unsafe. Sparkles thinks if this man had only taken coke, rather than the cocktail of drugs prescribed he might still be alive today.
    But these are just musings of her demented mind...yet again.;)
    Take care.
  8. Subvert
    Perhaps that's why he shouted everything.
  9. missparkles
    Fuckin' hell...Sparkles never thought of that...yeah..he did didn't he? :eek:
  10. Terrapinzflyer
    Independent Evaluation Finds that Billy Mays Death Was not Attributable to Cocaine Usage

    Statement from Deborah Mays
    TAMPA, Fla.--(Business Wire)--
    Billy`s family and I have never agreed with the Hillsborough County Medical
    Examiner`s conclusion that cocaine use contributed to Billy`s death. We found
    this to be so upsetting that we asked for review by an independent medical

    This review, conducted by Dr. William L. Manion, states that the autopsy results
    do not support the conclusion that cocaine was a contributory cause of Billy`s
    death. In fact, one of the few areas of agreement between the two reports is
    that it was a "natural" death. Dr. Manion goes on to say that if cocaine had
    been considered a significant contributing factor, the manner of death would be
    classified as "accidental" and not "natural."

    Dr. Manion`s report also says:

    "…chronic cocaine use was not demonstrated by the autopsy findings of Mr.
    William Mays. In addition, there is nothing in his medical, social or
    professional history to suggest chronic cocaine use. Therefore, I do not believe
    cocaine played a significant contributing factor in the death of Mr. Mays as the
    autopsy specimens and findings are not consistent with the cardiac conditions
    normally observed in a person chronically using cocaine."

    Dr. Manion, M.D., Ph.D, J.D., is consultant medical examiner for Burlington and
    Ocean Counties, New Jersey and Chief of Pathology for Virtua Health in New
    Jersey. He is board certified by the American Board of Pathology in both
    Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and Forensic Pathology, and is a nationally
    recognized and respected expert in the field of pathology.

    We believed at the time -- and believe even more now based on Dr. Manion`s
    report -- that the conclusions drawn by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner
    were not supported by the findings of the autopsy, nor by Billy`s medical
    history. And, although we cannot undo the damage that has already been done to
    Billy`s reputation, we are hopeful that this information will assist in clearing
    the name of a good husband, father and friend.

    This has been a very difficult period for our family and we appreciate the
    continued support that Billy`s many fans have extended. We again thank these
    fans and the members of the media who have respected our family`s privacy. We
    are also grateful to Dr. Manion for his thoughtful and objective review of
    Billy`s autopsy information and the medical literature to make sense of Billy`s
    untimely death.
  11. kailey_elise
    Well, the original report didn't say it was a 'significant' contributing factor, just a contributing factor - eating McDonald's daily could also be seen as a contributing factor (don't think he did, just an example).

    I don't recall it saying in the initial report that there was chronic cocaine use, just that there had been cocaine use in the 3-5 days previous and NOT on the day he died.

    What? The new report seems to agree that there was cocaine in his system, just that he didn't appear to be a chronic user, which the original report never claimed in the first place.

    And, of course, we get to the real reason for all this, that the family is worried that people are gonna be all "Billy was a cokewhore!!" which sucks. Lots of people do a few lines when they're out drinking or whatever & I hate that people want to get on their high horses because someone's tox screen shows they did some amount of cocaine in the last week. *growl*

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