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Autopsy Report Says Cocaine Contributed to Billy Mays Death

Aug. 7 2009, Published 7:11 a.m. ET

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Infomerical king, Billy Mays, didn’t just die from heart disease, has learned. It was helped along  by some pretty strong drugs.

According to the autopsy report, “cocaine use” is listed as a contributing cause of death—along with hypertensive and atherosclerotic heart disease.

Official documents show that Vicodin, Oxycodone, Xanax, Valium, benzoylecgonine (byproduct of cocaine) Ethanol—alcohol—and temazepam (anti-anxiety) were also in Mays’ system.

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A Hillsborough County, Florida, press release obtained by today stated, "from the presence of metabolites of cocaine and the absence of cocaine itself, it was concluded that Mr. Mays used cocaine in the few days prior to his death but not immediately prior to death."

On Friday, Mays, wife, Deborah Mays, released a statement in response to the autopsy results:

"We are extremely disappointed by the press release released by the Hillsborough County medical examiner's office. We believe it 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. Given the hectic nature and pace of Billy's life, especially during the past 10 months of his exhaustive travel across the country, it was not surprising to hear that hypertension was the cause of his death. We were totally unaware of any non prescription drug usage and are actively considering an independent evaluation of the autopsy results. As those who were close to Billy knew, he had been in chronic pain for more than two years and was about to have his third hip surgery in 18 months. His use of prescription pain medication for his hip condition was guided by his physician and was at recommended usage levels. This has been a very difficult period for our family and we appreciate the respect for our privacy that Billy's many clients, fans and members of the media have extended. We appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers for the family and will not have any immediate comment beyond this statement."


Mays died in his sleep on June 28 at his home in Florida. Tampa police say his wife found him unresponsive and a fire crew pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m. The previous day, Mays had hit his head while returning home on a plane. He later told his wife he didn’t feel very well before going to bed.

Mays was best known as the bearded, loud mouthed television pitchman behind infomercials including Oxyclean and Orange Glo. He was 50.



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