CULTURE

Details About Prince’s Cause of Death Have Been Confirmed: “Exceedingly High” Amounts of Fentanyl Found

The amount of fentanyl found in the singer’s body after his death was “exceedingly high,” according to a new toxicology report.


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Ever since the legendary musician Prince passed away on April 21, 2016, there has been much speculation about the cause of his tragic and sudden death. Nearly six weeks after he was found dead at his Minneapolis estate, public reports revealed that the cause of Prince’s death was an accidental overdose of fentanyl, but many details in the toxicology reports were still kept from the public.

Now, in an updated and more detailed toxicology report obtained and outlined by the Associated Press, it has been revealed that “exceedingly high” amounts of the synthetic opioid were found in Prince’s blood, liver, and stomach, which undoubtedly killed him. Prince suffered from chronic pain, so he took fentanyl—which the Associated Press notes is “50 times more powerful than heroin”—to deal with it. But the amount found in his body was absolutely deadly, according to Dr. Lewis Nelson, a chairman of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Details of the report reveal just how “exceedingly high” these quantities were and how deadly the narcotic can be, even if prescribed to treat severe pain. In Prince’s body, there was 67.8 micrograms of fentanyl per liter of blood; many deaths have occurred at just three micrograms per liter of blood. In addition, his liver contained 450 micrograms of fentanyl per kilogram, well over the level of what would be considered cause for “fatal toxicity,” which includes any amount of fentanyl over 69 micrograms per kilogram. The report suggests that Prince took the painkillers orally—hence the fentanyl in his stomach—which then circulated throughout his liver and blood before he died.

About a year after Prince’s death, pill bottles that were found around his home in Paisley Park tested positive for fentanyl, according to lab reports obtained by the Associated Press. The results suggest he may have been prescribed the painkillers and eventually built up a tolerance to the drug over time, leading to his overdose and death. However, the source of the drugs has yet to be discovered, and prosecutors are working to decide if they have a case to press charges against any particular individuals.

Related: See Rare Photographs of Prince Before He Was Prince, and Just 19 Years Old

A Look Back at Prince’s Incomparable Style

Prince performs live at the Fabulous Forum, 1985. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.

Prince performs live at the Fabulous Forum, 1985. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.

Prince performs on stage wearing ‘Slave’ tattoo, on ‘The Ultimate Live Experience’ tour at Wembley Arena in London, 1994. Photo by Peter Still/Redferns.

The Artist Formerly Known as Prince reclaims his name ‘Prince’ and announces public tours during a press conference in New York City. Photo by Evan Agostini/ImageDirect.

Prince presents the award for ‘Favorite Leading Lady’ at the People’s Choice Awards in 2005. Photo by Getty Images.

Prince at the 2014 French Open in Paris. Photo by Getty Images.

Prince on stage in California, 1997. Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images.

Prince in concert at Earl’s Court, London, 1992. Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images.

Prince at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards after party. Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage.

Prince performs onstage during the 2015 American Music Awards. Photo by Getty Images.

Prince perfroms onstage during the “Welcome 2 America” Tour at The Forum, 2011. Photo by Getty Images.

Prince performing at Wembley Arena in London, 1986. Photo by David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives.

Prince performs onstage at the Palladium, 1981. Photo by Waring Abbott/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.

Prince performs during his “Welcome 2 America” tour at Madison Square Garden, 2011. Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage.

Prince on stage wearing high-waisted white pants, circa 1990. Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images.

Prince onstage during The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2015. Photo by Getty Images.

Prince attends the ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ Gala Fashion Show with his wife in London. Photo by Justin GoffUK Press via Getty Images.

Prince performing in a black and white polka-dot outfit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1988. Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images.

Prince on tour in 1997. Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images.

Prince performs onstage during the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, 2012. Photo by Getty Images.

Prince plays guitar on stage during a concert, 1985. Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images.

Prince performs onstage for the ‘Pruple Rain Tour’ in Los Angeles, 1985. Photo by Getty Images.

Prince performs at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards. Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images.

Prince onstage during the 2010 BET Awards. Photo by Getty Images.

Prince onstage at the 2014 BRIT Awards. Photo by Getty Images.

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