Billy Mays

AP Photo

Drugs are bad. But not that bad, at least not for Billy Mays.

Despite an initial autopsy report indicating that cocaine played a significant role in the super-pitchman's unexpected death last June, an independent evaluation—carried out by a doctor hired by the Mays family—now claims that while the nose candy may have been present in Mays' system, it had absolutely nothing to do with his premature demise.

Dr. William Manion issued a six-page report on his findings contradicting Florida's Hillsborough County medical examiner, who said that Mays died of heart disease and that his cocaine use was a contributing factor.

According to Manion, the county coroner was only partly right.

"It is my opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that cocaine was not a significant contributing factor to the death of the late William Darrel Mays," he said, going on to say that Mays' nasal passages had neither deteriorated nor shown any damage typical of a chronic cocaine user, and that nothing in his "medical, social or professional history" suggested such behavior.

Of course, it's of note that Manion did not actually conduct an autopsy of his own and admittedly has yet to even physically examine the body. His findings, instead, were based on a review of the report issued by the medical examiner's office.

Which, apparently, is good enough for the Mays family.

"New autopsy results came out today," his son, Billy Mays III, wrote on Twitter this morning. "I knew from the beginning."

As did his mother, by the sounds of it.

"Billy's family and I have never agreed with the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's conclusion that cocaine use contributed to Billy's death," Deborah Mays said in a statement. "We found this to be so upsetting that we asked for a review by an independent medical examiner."

According to the widow, the strongest evidence in her mind that cocaine played no role was the agreement by both the county and Manion as to the nature of her husband's death.

"In fact, one of the few areas of agreement between the two reports is that it was a 'natural' death. Dr. Manion goes on to say that if cocaine had been considered a significant contributing factor, the manner of death would be classified as 'accidental' and not 'natural.'

"And although we cannot undo the damage that has already been done to Billy's reputation, we are hopeful that this information will assist in clearing the name of a good husband, father and friend."

As it happens, the Mays' weren't hogging all the press-release glory today. Hillsborough County responded to Manion's conclusions with a statement of their own—and it's safe to say they remain unconvinced.

"The Department stands by its findings reported in the autopsy report signed on Aug. 7, 2009, and has no additional comments."

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It certainly seems like it's been a bum year to be famous. It's times like these we turn to Answer B!tch, who's gotten to the bottom of the sudden surge of star deaths.

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