By Pat Anson, Editor
The late pop icon Prince was planning to meet with an addiction treatment doctor in the hours before he died in a last ditch effort to kick an addiction to opioid painkillers, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Howard Kornfeld, MD, an opioid addiction specialist in California, was called by Prince representatives the night of April 20 because Prince “was dealing with a grave medical emergency,” according to William Mauzy, a prominent Minneapolis attorney working with the Kornfeld family.
Prince’s body was found the next morning in an elevator at his Minneapolis home. An autopsy has been performed and the body cremated, but the official cause of death has not yet been released. Foul play or suicide are not suspected.
Kornfeld, who runs Recovery Without Walls, an upscale addiction treatment center in Mill Valley, California, is considered a pioneer in the use of buprenorphine to treat both addiction and chronic pain. The medication has long been sold under the brand name Suboxone, but is usually prescribed just to treat addiction.
Kornfeld was unable to meet with Prince immediately, but planned to fly to Minneapolis for “a lifesaving mission” on April 22.
“The plan was to quickly evaluate his health and devise a treatment plan,” Mauzy told the Star Tribune, which said several other sources corroborated Mauzy’s account.
Kornfeld’s son Andrew took a red-eye flight to Minneapolis on the morning of April 21 to lay the groundwork for Prince’s treatment program with his father. He was one of three people at Prince’s Paisley Park compound when the entertainer's body was found.
Mauzy said Andrew Kornfeld was the one who called 911 because the others “were in too much shock.” Kornfeld did not know the address and could only tell the dispatcher, “We’re at Prince’s house.”
Paramedics arrived within five minutes but were unable to revive the 57-year old Prince.
Sources told the Star Tribune that painkillers were found at the scene and have become the focus of the investigation. Investigators are trying to determine where Prince got the pills and who prescribed them.
Andrew Kornfeld reportedly had a small amount of buprenorphine to give to Prince, but it was never administered, according to Mauzy.
The Star Tribune story appears to add credence to reports in TMZ and other tabloids that Prince suffered from chronic hip pain and was addicted to opioid pain medication. Just days before his death, TMZ said Prince’s plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, where he was briefly hospitalized for an overdose of Percocet. He left against medical advice and flew back to Minneapolis a few hours later.