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Brittany Murphy Death: Accident Says Coroner, But Role of Rx Drugs Unresolved in Actress' Demise

(AP Photo, File)
NEW YORK (CBS) Actress Brittany Murphy's death is being called an accident, primarily due to pneumonia, according to the Los Angeles County coroner's office. But additional findings that anemia and prescription drugs also played a role leave several unanswered questions.

Photo: Brittany Murphy arriving at the premiere of her film "Happy Feet" in central London.

PICTURES: Brittany Murphy Dead at 32

The co-star of "Clueless" and "8 Mile" died Dec. 20, 2009 at age 32, after she collapsed in her Hollywood Hills home. Her husband, Simon Monjack and mother, Sharon Murphy, both claim she did not abuse prescription drugs or have an eating disorder. They told investigators she had been experiencing flu-like symptoms days before she died.

The coroner determined that Murphy's death was from "community acquired pneumonia," while also citing as contributing factors, iron deficiency anemia and "multiple drug intoxication."

Coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey declined to specify what types of drugs were involved but said they were all prescription medications. Details about the drugs will be released in several weeks.

Dr. Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner in New York City, said the coroner's determination indicated drugs probably played a key role in Murphy's death.

Baden said the use of some prescription medications can lead to pneumonia, and the coroner's office may have listed that as the primary cause to lessen the blow to Murphy's family.

"One doesn't die of pneumonia, usually, that quickly," Baden said. He also downplayed the role anemia may have played in Murphy's death.

A memorial for a foundation in Brittany Murphy's name had been planned for Thursday, but was abruptly canceled with no explanation.

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PICTURES: Brittany Murphy Dead at 32

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December 22, 2009 - Brittany Murphy Death (Photos): Toxic Drug Combination Likely Killed Her, Expert Tells CBS December 21, 2009 - Brittany Murphy Dead: Natural Causes to Blame, Says Coroner, But Police Are Investigating
  • Kealan Oliver

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