Prince Died From A Fentanyl Overdose

By McCarton Ackerman 06/02/16

After a month of speculation, the medical examiner's findings have confirmed the music icon's cause of death.

Prince Died From A Fentanyl Overdose

An autopsy report for the late singer Prince has confirmed that he died from a fentanyl overdose. Prince passed away at his Minnesota home on April 21 at the age of 57.

The Associated Press reported that the autopsy findings were released in a one-page report from the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office (MMEO). Although it’s unclear when Prince took the drug, he did administer it himself. The investigation into Prince’s death was a joint effort conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota and the Carver County Sheriff’s Office. MMEO said in a statement that its office had completed the investigation and would not make any further comment.

Prince’s death came one day before he was scheduled to meet with addiction expert Dr. Howard Kornfeld, a prominent California doctor who specializes in opioid addiction treatment. Representatives for Prince contacted Kornfeld on April 20, the day before he died. Unable to clear his schedule, the doctor sent his son, Andrew Kornfeld, to Prince’s estate outside of Minneapolis. Kornfeld's lawyer, William Mauzy, said the plan was for Andrew to get Prince "stabilized in Minnesota and convince him to come to Recovery Without Walls in Mill Valley," the doctor's treatment center in California. However, Andrew ultimately found the singer unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park studio complex.

Andrew was carrying a "small amount" of buprenorphine with him, a drug used to help wean opioid users off their drugs of choice. He was taken into custody in Minnesota the following day as part of an investigation into Prince’s death, but released shortly after.

Accusations of drug abuse swirled after Prince’s death, fueled in part by accounts told by an alleged ex-drug dealer who said Prince was “majorly addicted" to opiates. Unnamed sources said that when the singer’s plane made an emergency landing on April 15 in Moline, Illinois, his bodyguard carried him to waiting paramedics who administered naloxone. Prince was then reportedly taken to a nearby hospital, but left shortly after against medical advice.

The reports were surprising to many because Prince had a reputation for clean living. But singer and ex-fiancée Sheila E. said he “was in pain all the time” due to years of dancing and performing in high-heeled boots.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.