In April 2016, musical icon Prince passed away at the age of 57. He was found dead in an elevator at his Paisley Park complex following an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Specific details of his passing have been few and far between ever since, but a confidential toxicology report obtained by the AP revealed more about his death.
“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 who is not connected to the investigation, told the AP (per USA Today).
He described the report, which noted the concentration of fentanyl in Prince’s blood was 67.8 micrograms per liter, “a pretty clear smoking gun.” Previous fentanyl-related deaths include concentrations between three to 58 micrograms per liter.
The report also said that Prince’s liver contained 450 micrograms per kilogram of the drug. Nelson noted that concentrations greater than 69 micrograms per kilogram “seem to represent overdose or fatal toxicity cases.”
Fentanyl is at the forefront of America’s opioid crisis as the drug is 50 times stronger than heroin. Recreational abuse of fentanyl first began in the mid-1970s. Since then, illicitly synthesized fentanyl, often mixed with other drugs, has become increasingly common among illegal drug sales.
Due to differing tolerances of the substance, there is no set amount that doctors can point to as an overdose limit. However, experts noted that Prince’s system contained a potentially lethal amount.
The lead prosecutor on Prince’s case said last week that a decision would be made regarding potential charges “in the near future.”