Heath Ledgers Doctors Cleared Drug Enforcement Investigation
The federal Drug Enforcement Agency has cleared two doctors, one in Los Angeles and one in Houston, of any wrongdoing in connection with the death of 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger, who died last month of an accidental overdose , reports the New York Post.
The doctors had been investigated for information on how Ledger acquired Oxycontin and Vicodin, two powerful narcotics that are thought to have contributed to the lethal drug cocktail that killed the Oscar nominee January 22.
According to the Post, the DEA has concluded that, although the doctors met with the 'Dark Knight' star, they were not the source of either medication.
Interestingly, the DEA was not investigating with the intent of proving medical culpability in Ledger's death, but rather with an eye toward uncovering information on how the actor legally secured such powerful narcotics.
Due to their analgesic strength and high potential for abuse, Vicodin and Oxycontin are both on the list of federally controlled substances regulated and enforced by the Department of Justice.
Oxycontin, sometimes called 'hillbilly heroin' because of its chemical similarity to opium, is the more dangerous of the two, and is listed by the DOJ as a Schedule II drug alongside other, more well-known narcotics like cocaine, PCP and morphine. Its classification means it has an accepted medicinal use (in this case, it's a painkiller), but a high potential for physical and psychological dependency.
It also means that its use is strictly monitored by the DEA. All prescriptions for Oxy must be confirmed, in writing, to the DEA within three days of prescription, and no prescription may last more than 30 days (with rare exceptions in the case of cancer patients). No refills are allowed.
Vicodin is listed as a Schedule III drug, which is slightly less addictive than Schedule II.
In addition to Oxy and Vicodin, Ledger's autopsy also found the presence of Xanax, Valium, Temazepam and Doxylamine.
The actor battled an addiction to prescription medication in the months leading up to his death. With the two doctors cleared, it remains unknown at this time how the actor secured the medication.