Report: Prince Had 'Exceedingly High' Level of Drug in His System

Experts say it is obvious that fentanyl killed him
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 27, 2018 12:48 AM CDT
In this April 21, 2016 photo, people stand outside the entertainer Prince's Paisley Park compound in Chanhassen, Minn.   (Jim Gehrz/Star Tribune via AP, File)
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(Newser) – A toxicology report from Prince's autopsy obtained Monday by the AP shows he had what multiple experts called an "exceedingly high" concentration of fentanyl in his body when he died. Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. Public data released six weeks after his death showed he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin. The confidential toxicology report obtained by the AP provides some insight into just how much fentanyl was in his system. Experts who are not connected to the Prince investigation said the numbers leave no doubt that fentanyl killed him.

"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. He called the fentanyl concentrations "a pretty clear smoking gun." The report says the concentration of fentanyl in Prince's blood was 67.8 micrograms per liter, and fatalities have been documented in people with blood levels ranging from three to 58 micrograms per liter. The report also says the level of fentanyl in Prince's liver was 450 micrograms per kilogram, and notes that liver concentrations greater than 69 micrograms per kilogram "seem to represent overdose or fatal toxicity cases." Experts say there is no "lethal level" at which fentanyl can kill. A person who takes prescription opioids for a long time builds up a tolerance, and a dose that could kill one person might help another.

(Read more Prince stories.)

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