Update: A Minnesota medical examiner confirms that Prince died of an overdose of “self-administered fentanyl.” Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is described as being 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 40 to 50 times more potent than pure heroin.
A law enforcement official confirmed today that an opioid overdose caused Prince’s death on April 21, according to the Associated Press. The official, a close investigator on the Prince case, remains anonymous because he is unauthorized to speak to media.
Earlier reports stated that no sound conclusions could be drawn from the autopsy, given that the toxicology report had not yet come in. However, investigators have found that prescription painkillers were in Prince’s possession in late April. Meanwhile Prince’s lawyer, L. Londell McMillan, told the AP that the singer was “not on any drugs that would be any cause for concern.”
The singer saw Dr. Michael Todd Schulenburg twice in the two weeks before his death, one of those times being on April 20. Schulenburg prescribed medication, but the search warrant for the Schulenburg’s hospital of employment does not specify what exactly was prescribed. Also on April 20, Prince’s representatives asked California addiction specialist, Dr. Howard Kornfield, to see the him. Kornfeld sent his son, who is not a doctor, to initially meet with Prince, and he was among those who first discovered the body. Kornfeld’s son had in possession buprenorphine, intending to give the drug which eases opioid cravings to a doctor in Minnesota who had planned to see Prince on April 21.
When Prince’s plane made its emergency landing a week prior to his death, first responders administered a shot of Narcan, a drug to counteract suspected opioid overdoses.
Prince is remembered by many as an artist who practiced clean living. However, his friend and collaborator Sheila E. told the AP that Prince suffered severe hip and knee pain that came from years of highly physical performances.