Report: Fentanyl Pills Found at Prince’s Estate Were Mislabeled as Weaker Opioid

Prince Protégé Recalls the Emergency Landing Prior to His Death
Judith Hill, Prince's protégé, speaks to The New York Times.

Pills labeled as hydrocodone that were seized from Prince’s Paisley Park compound actually contained fentanyl, the powerful opioid that caused his death, according to an inside source familiar with the investigation.

This piece of information, as told to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, either attributes the mislabeling to an accident made by the pharmaceutical manufacturer or as a purposeful ploy to manufacture and obtain fentanyl illegally. The source suggests that the working theory among investigators leans towards the argument that Prince took the pills without knowing that they contained the drug.

Fentanyl is synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. It is prescribed to cancer patients in extreme pain and has been used to quell the discomfort of those who are dying. However, illegally manufactured synthetic fentanyl that is mixed or sold as heroin caused a rise in overdoses in 2015. This crisis was addressed by the DEA in a report last month that stated that “there were approximately eight times as many fentanyl exhibits (confiscated drugs that tested positive for fentanyl) in 2015 as there were during the 2006 fentanyl crisis, clearly demonstrating the unprecedented threat and expansion of the fentanyl market.”

The Star Tribune says that the amount of fentanyl in Prince’s system could have killed anyone, no matter their weight, despite him weighing 112 pounds at the time of his death.

The investigation of Prince’s death is still ongoing four months after his death in April. The autopsy report released by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office states that Prince died from an accidental, self-administered overdose of fentanyl without any other cause of death listed, but does not indicate how he obtained the drug.

As CNN notes, there would have likely been an emergency recall of the mislabeled hydrocodone if it was distributed to the public given the potency of fentanyl.


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