Prince reportedly died with ‘exceedingly high’ level of fentanyl in blood

JAY JANNER/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN/TNS
Prince performs at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, in 2013.
BY LIBBY HILL

LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS

It’s been nearly two years since the sudden passing of music legend Prince, and a toxicology report is shedding new light on the circumstances of his death.

The Associated Press reported Monday that the confidential toxicology document revealed the “concentration of fentanyl in Prince’s blood was 67.8 micrograms per liter.”

For context, the report added that fatalities have been documented in individuals with blood levels ranging from three to 58 micrograms per liter.

What it is
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Prince was found dead in his Minnesota home at age 57 on April 21, 2016.

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

Nelson went on to call the fentanyl concentrations “a pretty clear smoking gun.”

Court ordered release
While a public autopsy report that the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Minnesota released six weeks after the singer’s death stated that it was an accidental overdose, the specific fentanyl level was previously unknown.

The news comes a week after the Carver County Attorney’s Office announced that the Anoka County District Court had ordered the release of the full autopsy report to lawyers for Prince’s next of kin.

The decision was made to allow for the exploration of a possible wrongful death lawsuit within the statute of limitations. A civil suit would exist wholly outside of the ongoing criminal investigation.

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