Prince Toxicology Report Reveals High Levels of Fentanyl
After Prince's death in April 2016, investigators determined he was killed by an accidental overdose of the synthetic opioid known as fentanyl — and now, thanks to a toxicology report obtained by the Associated Press, we have a better idea of just how much of the drug was in his system when he died.
Unsurprisingly given the end result, medical experts have described the amount of fentanyl in Prince's system as dangerously concentrated. One such expert, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School chairman of emergency medicine Dr. Lewis Nelson, called the report "a pretty clear smoking gun" and added, "The amount in his blood is exceedingly high, even for somebody who is a chronic pain patient on fentanyl patches."
According to the data in the report, the fentanyl in Prince's blood was determined to be concentrated at 67.8 micrograms per liter — higher than the wide range at which documented human fatalities have occurred, which can take place between three and 58 micrograms per liter. The report also notes the level of fentanyl in Prince's liver, which was 450 micrograms per kilogram — much higher than 69 micrograms per kilogram, the threshold which "[seems] to represent overdose or fatal toxicity cases."
Additionally, a "potentially lethal amount" of fentanyl was found in Prince's stomach, leading American College of Medical Toxicology president Dr. Charles McKay to tell the AP that the report's general findings indicate Prince tended to take the drug orally.
As the AP points out, although fentanyl is powerfully addictive, there's no baseline threshold for safety. "Experts say there is no 'lethal level' at which fentanyl can kill," the report adds. "A person who takes prescription opioids for a long time builds up a tolerance, and a dose that could kill one person might help another."