Chicago Sun-Times
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Coroner: Jay Bennett died of an accidental drug overdose

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Exactly one month after indie-rock record producer and former Wilco musician Jay Bennett was found dead in bed at his home in downstate Illinois, Urbana-Champaign officials have said he died of an apparently accidental overdose of a common but controversial pain killer.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup told the Associated Press that tests show the 45-year-old musician died from fentanyl, a drug commonly found in patches prescribed to treat chronic pain.

In late April, Bennett wrote on his MySpace blog about dealing with intense pain from a hip injury suffered years ago during a dive from the stage while playing with Titanic Love Affair. He was preparing to have surgery, but was concerned about his lack of health insurance.

According to "Drugs of Abuse," a publication of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration:

First synthesized in Belgium in the late 1950s, fentanyl, with an analgesic potency of about 80 times that of morphine, was introduced into medical practice in the 1960s... Illicit use of pharmaceutical fentanyls first appeared in the mid-1970s in the medical community and continues to be a problem in the United States. To date, over 12 different analogues of fentanyl have been produced clandestinely and identified in the U.S. drug traffic. The biological effects of the fentanyls are indistinguishable from those of heroin, with the exception that the fentanyls may be hundreds of times more potent. Fentanyls are most commonly used by intravenous administration, but like heroin, they may also be smoked or snorted.

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So if Jay had health insurance, he'd have had the surgery long ago. Hence, the suing of Tweedy and Wilco.

Don't you think Jeff and Wilco could connect the dots? Or, were they blinded by greed and self-congratulations?

Is there blood on Jeff's hands here?


I really, really wish that DeRogatis had not posted the DEA text, because readers will assume that this is what Jay was doing--shooting, snorting, illegally abusing this drug. He was not.

He was wearing a prescribed patch...a product that had been recalled several times over the past few years, for manufacturers' defects, and as recently as December 31, 2008. That last recall was for patches that had expiration dates of December 2009. So anyone with a current prescription should look online to find the recalled batch numbers and make sure that theirs are not included.

Did Jay have a defective patch that had been recalled? Should there be a new recall of other patches? Did he accidentally puncture the patch himself while trying to put it on?

I wish people wouldn't jump to conclusions about his drug use. I've read so many cruel comments.... People should know that Jay's friends and family members read these posts, hoping to find affirmation that people did love him and recognized his work. We miss him.

I also wish people would stop obsessing about whether or not the Wilco guys miss him "enough," are saying the "right" things, or if Jeff Tweedy is a bad guy in this scenario. Enough already.

I wish DeRogatis would behave like a true journalist, and do some research on the recalls, the lawsuits, rather than just pulling quotes from the feds that compare the drug to heroin, insinuating addiction or abuse. It seems mean-spirited, or, at the least, sloppy work.

Mr. DeRogatis, I am a longtime fan of your writing but this piece is lacking in relevant, important information. I agree with much of what "R" wrote above and decided to do some research:

Please consider amending your post with more information.

disgraceful reporting. shame on you. i hope your departure from this world is met with more respect than you paid to Mr. Bennett.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on June 23, 2009 1:06 PM.

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