Toxicology report attributes Prince’s death to fentanyl overdose
A toxicology report from Prince’s autopsy indicates that the artist died from an accidental fentanyl overdose.
The chairman of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Dr. Lewis Nelson cited the level of fentanyl in Prince’s body as being abnormally concentrated. “The amount in his blood is exceedingly high, even for someone who is a chronic pain patient on fentanyl patches,” Nelson said.
A potent synthetic opioid, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, leading to an increased risk of overdose for users of drugs cut with the opioid. Fentanyl additionally augments the addictive quality of addictive substances, further increasing the chance for drug addiction and related overdoses. Fentanyl has appeared as a substance used to cut drugs on the black market, despite its toxicity — an amount of fentanyl the size of a mere grain of salt can materialize as a lethal dose. Fentanyl overdose victims are generally unaware that the drugs that they take are laced with fentanyl at the time of consumption. Fentanyl was similarly involved in the death of rapper Lil Peep in November.
Medical experts who are not associated with Prince’s autopsy have said that there is “no doubt” that fentanyl was the reason for Prince’s death, given the numbers. The toxicology report found the concentration of fentanyl in Prince’s blood to be 67.8 micrograms per liter, an unprecedented number — as the report observes, fatalities have previously been documented in those with blood levels ranging from three to 58 micrograms per liter. The report additionally determined the fentanyl concentration in Prince’s liver to be 450 micrograms per kilogram. Liver concentrations greater than 69 micrograms per kilogram “seem to represent overdose or fatal toxicity cases,” despite there being no isolated “lethal level” at which fentanyl can kill those who ingest the drug. The autopsy also discovered a “potentially lethal amount” of fentanyl in Prince’s stomach.
Dr. Charles McKay, president of the American College of Medical Toxicology said that the autopsy’s results suggest that Prince took the drug orally. The presence of fentanyl in both the blood and the liver signify that the drug had enough time to circulate Prince’s system prior to his death. Prince was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park residence on April 21, 2016
Search warrants released about a year after Prince’s death revealed that police encountered various pills in containers placed in numerous places in Prince’s home. Many of the pills found by authorities tested positive for the presence of fentanyl and other drugs. Publicly released information notes that the source of the drugs has yet to be determined. The lead prosecutor of the county where Prince died gave a statement last week, in which he said he was reviewing the law enforcement reports from the event, and would make a decision regarding whether he would charge anyone “in the near future.”
H/T: AP News