It’s official: Prince died of an overdose of an extremely powerful opioid

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The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey, Minnesota, has completed the autopsy of recently deceased music icon, Prince, and the full results of the procedure reveal that the singer did indeed die of an opioid overdose, according to the Associated Press.

The Carver County, Minnesota Sheriff’s Office called a press conference for 4 p.m. ET April 22, but details of the ongoing investigation and the exact cause of death were not discussed. The Medical Examiner’s office had previously stated it did not intend to release information until the exam was complete, and stuck by that for over a month. The autopsy reportedly began at 10 a.m. ET on April 22 and lasted about four hours, with toxicology reports eventually confirming opioid overdose with the drug fentanyl. The drug is reportedly as much as 50 times as powerful as heroin.

There were no obvious signs of trauma, and that there was nothing to indicate the death was a suicide.

During the press conference in April, Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson outlined the general timeline of the discovery and subsequent investigation into Prince’s death. Prince was found unresponsive in an elevator, and was pronounced dead after CPR efforts failed to revive him. Olson stated the premises was searched and found to be empty, indicating Prince died alone. Olson went on to explain that a full investigation is standard procedure for an unwitnessed death, and confirmed that the sheriff’s department did call in a crime lab, but was quick to state that nothing should be inferred from the crime lab’s involvement as it is procedure. Olson also stated there were no obvious signs of trauma, and that there was nothing to indicate the death was a suicide.

Sheriff Olson declined to comment on Prince’s health status prior to his death, but did state that no medical calls had been made to Paisley Park over the past year that involved the musician directly.

Speculation that the opioid Percocet may have contributed to the star’s death was widely reported prior to today’s announcement. An April TMZ report stated Prince’s airplane had to make an emergency landing because the musician had overdosed on the drug; in fact, the report claimed EMTs had to administer a so-called “save shot” before rushing the him to the hospital, where he was released three hours later. TMZ further stated that Prince was taking the drug to control hip pain, perhaps stemming from a hip surgery the singer had in 2010, but it appears the extent of his opioid use was even more serious than previously reported.

Prior to his death on April 21, Prince’s representatives had stated the performer was battling the flu, and that his poor health was the reason two concerts in Atlanta set for April 7 had to be cancelled. However, the evidence of fentanyl use has lead to speculation that he was suffering from complications caused by the extremely powerful drug instead. The task now begins for investigators to find out where the rock star acquired the drug, as well as whether or not it was acquired through legal or illegal means. The AP claims that the names of two doctors have come up in the investigation, but no charges have yet been filed.

Prince sold more than 100 million albums over the course of his multi-decade career, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest live performers of all time. His death came as a shock to many fans, as he seemed in good health and good spirits until the day he died.

The singer, who was famed for being very private, had been the subject of multiple death hoaxes over the years, with his most recent hospitalization sparking yet another slew of rumors that he had passed away.

There has been significant public mourning around the world over the loss. Prince was hailed as an almost God-like figure in the world of pop, R&B, and soul music worldwide.

Updated on 6-2-2016 at 4:52 p.m. PT by Ryan Waniata: Updated with an AP report that Prince is confirmed to have overdosed on opioids in the form of fentanyl.

Article originally published on 4-21-2016.


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