NEW YORK — Philip Seymour Hoffman died from taking a combination of heroin, cocaine and other drugs, the New York City medical examiner ruled Friday, a toxic mix that addiction specialists say is not uncommon in the tens of thousands of overdose deaths in the U.S. each year.
Hoffman, 46, who was found Feb. 2 with a needle in his arm on the floor of his Manhattan apartment, also had taken amphetamines and benzodiazepines, which are drugs such as Xanax and Valium that are widely prescribed for anxiety, trouble sleeping and other problems, said a spokeswoman for the medical examiner. The death was ruled accidental.
The medical examiner didn't provide the names of the drugs or the amounts found in the actor's system, making it impossible to determine which drug was the major factor, said Dr. Charles McKay, a medical toxicologist for Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and a spokesman for the American College of Medical Toxicology.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)
In a Jan. 19, 2014 photo Phillip Seymour Hoffman poses for a portrait at The Collective and Gibson Lounge Powered by CEG, during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Hoffman, who won the Oscar for best actor in 2006 for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in "Capote," was found dead Sunday in his apartment in New York with what law enforcement officials said was a syringe in his arm. He was 46. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)
Philip Seymour Hoffman, right, and director Anton Corbijn, rear, are interviewed at the premiere of the film "A Most Wanted Man" during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
This photo provided by the Sundance Institute shows Philip Seymour Hoffman, left, and Eddie Marsan in a scene from the film "God's Pocket." (AP Photo/Sundance Institute, Lance Acord)
This photo provided by the Sundance Institute shows Philip Seymour Hoffman, right, and Rachel McAdams, front, in a scene from the film, "A Most Wanted Man" which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. (AP Photo/Sundance Institute)
In a Sunday, March 5, 2006, file photo, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman poses with the Oscar he won for best actor for his work in "Capote" at the 78th Academy Awards, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)
This file film image released by The Weinstein Company shows Joaquin Phoenix, left, and Philip Seymour Hoffman in a scene from "The Master." Police say Phillip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York City apartment Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. He was 46. (AP Photo/The Weinstein Company, File)
In this image released by Colombia Pictures, Philip Seymour Hoffman, left, and Ryan Gosling are shown in a scene from "Ides of March." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Saeed Adyani, File)
In this undated file image released by Miramax Film Corp., Philip Seymour Hoffman portrays Father Flynn, right, and Meryl Streep portrays Sister Aloysius in a scene from "Doubt." (AP Photo/Miramax Film Corp, Andrew Schwartz, File)
In this undated publicity photo released by Sony Pictures Classics, Philip Seymour Hoffman portrays author Truman Capote in a scene from the film "Capote." (AP Photo/Attila Doroy, Sony Pictures Classics, File)
In a Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 file photo, Philip Seymour Hoffman seen at Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Los Angeles Premiere, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Invision for Lionsgate/AP Images, File)
This Nov. 18, 2013 file photo shows Philip Seymour Hoffman at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" at Nokia Theatre LA Live. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
Police stand guard outside the home of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead in his Greenwich village apartment, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in New York. He was 46. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
People look toward the home of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
"There's a difference between a stimulant death, which would be cocaine and the amphetamines, and a narcotic death, like heroin," he said.
The first two can cause heart rhythm problems, a stroke or heart attack, whereas heroin, especially with sedatives such as benzodiazepines, can depress breathing.
In any case, McKay said, the combination of drugs "suggests someone who has been using drugs repetitively."
Police had been investigating Hoffman's death as a suspected drug overdose. Tests found heroin in samples from at least 50 packets in his Manhattan apartment. Authorities also found unused syringes, a charred spoon and various prescription medications, including a drug used to treat heroin addiction, a blood-pressure medication and a muscle relaxant.