Additional details have emerged regarding Prince’s 2016 death.
According to a toxicology report obtained by the Associated Press, the legendary singer had “exceedingly high” levels of fentanyl in his system at the time of his death. The information arrives nearly two years after Prince was found unresponsive at his Paisley Park compound in Minneapolis.
Though medical examiners previously confirmed Prince’s death was caused by an overdose on fentanyl—a synthetic opioid that is usually about 50 times more potent than heroin—it was not initially clear just how much of the drug was found in his body.
The Associated Press reports the concentration of fentanyl in Prince's blood was 67.8 micrograms per liter. For context, the report points out people have died with levels ranging from 3 micrograms to 58 micrograms. Why the large gap? Experts point to various tolerance levels among opioid users, meaning a dose that proves fatal for one person might be beneficial to someone else.
Toxicology tests determined Prince's liver had a concentration of 450 micrograms per kilogram. The report notes that levels above 69 micrograms per kilogram “seem to represent overdose or fatal toxicity cases.”
“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.
Fentanyl has been linked to a number of recent celebrity deaths. Months after Tom Petty died at 66, examiners revealed he had succumbed to an accidental drug overdose of several medications, including fentanyl, oxycodone, acetyl fentanyl, and despropionyl fentanyl. Lil Peep’s death in 2017 was also reportedly caused by an overdose of fentanyl and Xanax.
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