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Prince overdosed on powerful painkiller, medical examiner says

By
Marilyn Malara and Doug G. Ware
Prince performs at half time at Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium in Miami on February 4, 2007. The medical examiner said Thursday that the musician died of an opioid overdose. File Photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI
Prince performs at half time at Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium in Miami on February 4, 2007. The medical examiner said Thursday that the musician died of an opioid overdose. File Photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo

MINNEAPOLIS, June 2 (UPI) -- Six weeks to the day after the death of Prince, the medical examiner said that the iconic singer and songwriter died from an overdose of one of the strongest commercially available painkillers in the world.

A. Quinn Strobl, a forensic pathologist and chief medical examiner for the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office, issued her final report on Thursday. The autopsy was done at the request of the Carver County Sheriff's Office.

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Prince Rogers Nelson, according to the report, died from a fatal "self-administered" dose of fentanyl -- an opioid roughly 100 times stronger than morphine.

Prince was found dead in an elevator by two staffers at his Minneapolis-area property, Paisley Park, on the morning of April 21. Prescription drugs were found on his person.

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Speculation has persisted for weeks that the 57-year-old singer died from a painkiller overdose, but it wasn't until Thursday that it was made official. Toxicology results from autopsies typically take several weeks.

"We need to see the Prince in all of us. We need to see the vulnerability," Dr. David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration told the Los Angeles Times. "We're all vulnerable here. It's a wake-up call for how we view these drugs."

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Kessler called it troublesome that many people who are initially prescribed opioids for pain eventually become addicted to the drugs.

"The most important thing is not to look at this through a lens of 'This is bad behavior,'" he said. "We all are susceptible to these medications."

It has been reported that Prince's death occurred just one day before he was scheduled to meet with a physician in an attempt to end his opioid addiction.

California addiction specialist Howard Kornfeld was expected to arrive in Minnesota on April 22, but sent his son and partner ahead. Andrew Kornfeld was actually present when Prince's staff found his body in an elevator on the morning of the 21st.

In May, investigators from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration conducted a second search of Prince's home.

Midwest Medical Examiner's Office Press Release, Prince Rogers Nelson

On April 15, Prince's jet had to make an emergency landing in Moline, Ill., while en route to Minneapolis from Atlanta due to an unresponsive passenger.

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