Prince Had “Exceedingly High” Amount Of Fentanyl In Blood

By Victoria Kim 03/28/18

Experts say the concentrations of fentanyl found in the music icon's body “leave no doubt” that the opioid caused his death.


A toxicology report has revealed exactly how much fentanyl Prince had in his system at the time of his death on April 21, 2016. The music icon died at the age of 57 in his Paisley Park estate in Chanhassen, Minnesota, of a fentanyl overdose.

Fentanyl is said to be up to 50 times stronger than heroin. Originally a pharmaceutical opioid used for pain relief, fentanyl has garnered more attention amid the national opioid crisis, and is blamed for exacerbating the number of opioid-related deaths.

According to the toxicology report obtained by the Associated Press on Monday (March 26), the musician had a concentration of fentanyl in his blood at 67.8 micrograms per liter—far exceeding previously documented fatal fentanyl poisonings that detected 3 to 58 micrograms per liter in the blood.

While lethal concentrations of fentanyl in the liver have been said to exceed 69 micrograms per kilogram, 450 micrograms per kilogram were found in Prince’s liver.

There was also a “potentially lethal amount of fentanyl” in his stomach, according to the AP, which the president of the American College of Medical Toxicology said suggests that Prince had ingested the drug orally.

According to experts interviewed by the AP, the concentrations of fentanyl in Prince’s body represent “a pretty clear smoking gun,” and “leave no doubt” that the opioid caused his death.

“The amount in his blood is exceedingly high, even for somebody who is a chronic pain patient on fentanyl patches,” said Dr. Lewis Nelson, chairman of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Early reports revealed that the musician was in contact with opioid addiction expert Dr. Howard Kornfeld around the time of his death. The doctor had hoped to have Prince “stabilized in Minnesota” and then convince him to get help at Kornfeld’s treatment center in California, according to his lawyer William Mauzy.

Pill bottles found in Prince's home indicated that he was trying to hide his fentanyl use; investigators discovered Aleve and Bayer bottles that were used to store pills containing fentanyl, the New York Times reported.

The lead prosecutor in Carver County, Minnesota said last Thursday that he is still weighing whether he will charge anyone in Prince’s death, saying he will make a decision “in the near future.” 

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr