No Opioid Painkillers Prescribed to Prince

By Pat Anson, Editor

Nearly a year after pop superstar Prince was found dead of an accidental drug overdose in his Minnesota home, we still don’t know where he obtained the fentanyl that killed him.

Court documents released today show that none of the opioid painkillers found in Prince’s home were prescribed to him. At least one opioid prescription bottle bore the name of Kirk Johnson, Prince’s former drummer and a longtime friend. Other opioid medications were found stashed throughout Prince’s Paisley Park home near Minneapolis.

“The controlled substances were not contained in typical prescription pill bottles, but rather, were stored in various other containers such as vitamin bottles. Bottles containing these controlled substances were located in multiple areas of the complex, including Prince’s Bedroom,” a search warrant said

“Investigators have been searching for the source of the controlled substances found in Prince’s residence. Through this investigation, interviews with those who were at Paisley Park the morning Prince was found deceased have provided inconsistent and, at times, contradictory statements.” 

Assistants to the entertainer told investigators that “Prince recently had a history of going through withdrawals” and they had arranged a meeting for him to meet with an addiction treatment specialist.

Prince was found dead in an elevator at his home on April 21, 2016 and speculation immediately focused on a possible opioid overdose. A medical examiner later reported that Prince died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl, but did not say where the drug came from.

Prince did not have a prescription for fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid that is used in skin patches and lozenges to treat severe pain. Illicit fentanyl is widely sold on the black market, where it is often mixed with heroin or used to make counterfeit painkillers.

Prince died less than a week after his private plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, where paramedics reportedly treated him for an opioid overdose.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported last year that Prince weighed only 112 pounds at the time of his death and had so much fentanyl in his system that it would have killed anyone.

According to the newspaper, some of the pills found in Prince’s home were labeled as “Watson 853” – a stamp used to identify generic pills containing hydrocodone and acetaminophen that are sold under the brand name Lortab. When one of those pills was tested, it was found to contain fentanyl and lidocaine.

A week before he died, Dr. Michael Schulenberg wrote an oxycodone prescription for Prince under Johnson's name to protect the singer’s privacy, according to investigators.  But in a statement released today, Schulenberg's attorney denied prescribing opioids to Johnson or "any other person with the intent that they would be given to Prince."

The Star Tribune reported that investigators turned over the results of their investigation to the U.S. attorney’s office earlier this year.  No arrests have been made and no charges have been filed.