When Prince Rogers Nelson died in April, it was reported that he died of an apparent overdose of opiates, which he had used to combat chronic hip pain. Now a new report from Minneapolis indicates he died as a result of taking counterfeit hydrocodone containing deadly fentanyl.
Prince Rogers Nelson, an American musician and performer, who died of an accidental overdose on April 21, 2016, appears to have been a victim of the fentanyl-laced counterfeit pain pill epidemic sweeping the United States. A story filed over the weekend by the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that “Pills marked as hydrocodone that were seized from Paisley Park after Prince’s overdose death actually contained fentanyl, the powerful opioid that killed him, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.”
According to the Star Tribune, “The musician, who weighed only 112 pounds at the time of his death April 21, had so much of the drug in his system, autopsy results later showed, that it would have killed anyone, regardless of size, the source said.”
Fentanyl-laced pain pills are killing Americans all over the United States, with Prince’s death being the most high-profile death resulting from the fake pain medication. The earliest indicator of this new counterfeit drug danger was a warning from the San Francisco Department of Public Health in October 2015 after 3 San Francisco residents were hospitalized with fentanyl poisoning and another died after taking what they thought was the anti-anxiety medication Xanax. It was later by reported by KRON4 that 3 more San Francisco residents’ deaths may have resulted from ingesting counterfeit Xanax laced with fentanyl.
Since that time, fentanyl has shown up in counterfeit versions of Xanax, Percocet, Norco, and Vicodin. 23 different U.S. states have reported overdose deaths resulting from ingestion of counterfeit pain pills laced with deadly fentanyl, and in June, the Drug Enforcement Administration called fake prescription pills containing fentanyl a global threat in their report on the epidemic.
According to the Guardian, several bottles of pills containing fake hydrocodone were discovered among Prince’s effects. “Some pills that were analyzed contained fentanyl, lidocaine and U-4770, a synthetic drug that is eight times more powerful than morphine.”
However, tests conducted on Prince in the days before he died did not show any fentanyl in his system, which indicates he was not a long-term user of the drug and “probably took the fatal dose in the 24 hours before he died,” the Guardian reports.
Vanity Fair author Joanna Robinson opined, “It’s entirely possible that Prince—who was reportedly scheduled to see an addiction doctor the day after he died—did not know exactly what he was taking when he died at age 57.”
Notes the Star Tribune, “even without definitive answers, it seems more and more likely that Prince became a casualty of what is being called a new national crisis of deadly counterfeit pills.”
To learn more about the deadly fake medication epidemic sweeping the United States, please read When Fake Drugs Turn Deadly: Counterfeits in the United States.
By S. Imber