Prince died of an overdose of fentanyl, a powerful opioid painkiller that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin, autopsy results released Thursday show. The findings confirm suspicions that opioids played a role in the death of the superstar musician, who was found dead April 21 at his Minneapolis-area estate. It was not immediately clear whether Prince had a prescription for the drug and, if not, how he obtained it, the AP reports. At least one friend has said he suffered from intense knee and hip pain from many years of stage performances. The results raised the possibility that anyone who provided the drug illegally could face criminal charges. Although the death was formally ruled an accident, that merely signified that it was not intentional and in no way precludes prosecution.
Prince, 57, died less than a week after his plane made an emergency stop in Moline, Illinois, for medical treatment as he was returning from an Atlanta concert. The AP and other media reported, based on anonymous sources, that he was found unconscious on the plane, and first responders gave him a shot of Narcan, an antidote used in suspected opioid overdoses. Dr. Michael Todd Schulenberg, a family practitioner, treated Prince on April 7 and April 20 and told investigators he prescribed medications for the singer. And Dr. Howard Kornfeld, a California addiction specialist, was asked by Prince's representatives on April 20 to help the singer; Kornfeld sent his son Andrew on a redeye flight that night, and Andrew Kornfeld was among the people who found Prince's body the next morning, according to Kornfeld's attorney, William Mauzy. The younger Kornfeld, who is not a doctor, was carrying buprenorphine, a medication that can be used to treat opioid addiction by easing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, Mauzy said, explaining that Andrew Kornfeld intended to give the medication to a Minnesota doctor who had cleared his schedule to see Prince on April 21. (Read more Prince stories.)