More than a month after Prince’s death, the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office issued a press release announcing accidental “fentanyl toxicity” as the cause of the singer’s death.
Earlier in the day, an anonymous law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation had told The Associated Press that Prince died from an opioid overdose. Shortly after the AP released the story, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune confirmed the cause of death through its own anonymous source.
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. A. Quinn Strobl signed the report which stated “the decedent self-administered fentanyl.”
Law enforcement officials had previously refused to divulge a cause of death because of an ongoing investigation, but anonymous sources had confirmed to the Star-Tribune that the singer died with Percocet in his system in April.
An official autopsy is not expected to be released until an investigation into how the singer obtained the painkillers is completed.
Fentanyl is a prescription opioid that is 100 times the strength of morphine. The DEA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued multiple public safety alerts involving the drug since 2005. Nationally, the number of emergency room visits involving fentanyl almost doubled between 2005 and 2011.
The Florida Medical Examiners Commission recently released new data showing a spike in fentanyl deaths in Florida from 2014 to 2015.
Star-Tribune sources had confirmed that Prince saw Minneapolis physician Dr. Michael Todd Schulenberg because of fatigue, anemia and opioid withdrawal concerns. However, the sources said the doctor did not prescribe opioids.
Prince’s representatives reportedly contacted addiction specialist Dr. Howard Kornfeld about getting the singer into Kornfeld’s California rehab center on the night before Prince’s death. The doctor sent his son to Minneapolis to meet with Prince, but Andrew Kornfeld and Prince’s assistants found the singer’s body when they searched the star’s home the next morning.
After his death on April 21, numerous reports surfaced about Prince’s history of drug addiction.
The singer reportedly overdosed on opioids on a flight home from Atlanta on April 15. His private plane had to make an emergency landing, and he was given a shot of Narcan, an opioid antidote containing naloxone, to save his life.
He was also reportedly suffering from influenza and pain from a hip problem in April 2016.
The investigation into the death has involved the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Justice. Neither foul play nor suicide was suspected in the death.