Iconic singer legend Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead at his home at Paisley Park on April 21, and sources close to him said he had been battling flu-like symptoms for several days.
His body was found in the elevator of his estate, with no obvious signs of trauma, according to the medical examiner that handled the case. His cause of death was not labelled as suspicious, but since the cause was unknown, he was sent for an autopsy. The results of that autopsy that was completed shortly after his death will not be available for another two to three weeks.
He had been performing in concert until very shortly before his death, but his private plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, where TMZ reported he was treated for a Percocet overdose. Percocet is a strong narcotic pain-killer that is regulated by the FDA and only available by prescription. The narcotic antagonist Naloxone can reverse the effects of too much narcotics being present in the body, which can cause people to stop breathing. It is unknown if Prince was administered naloxone, and his spokespeople have never confirmed that he was treated for an overdose.
Multiple news outlets have been reporting that prescription drugs were found on Prince’s body at the time he was discovered dead, according to US News. However, that has not been confirmed by the Carver County law enforcement agencies, nor any of Prince’s spokespeople. Carver County Deputy Sheriff Jason Kamerud denied that his agency had asked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for help with the case, despite multiple reports from unnamed sources that they had.
“We have not asked them for help, or asked them to be a part of the investigation. We might contact them to help us, but that hasn’t happened. We don’t have the medical examiner’s report yet. We don’t know to what extent pharmaceuticals could be a part of this.”
Sources claim that there were prescription medications found on Prince’s body, but did not specify type or quantity, nor if they had been prescribed to him. Prince’s long time friend, fellow singer Sheila E, says that Prince suffered from chronic orthopedic pain in his hip due to years of jumping on and off platforms while performing in high heels.
Prince had recently cancelled two shows in Atlanta, citing illness, but performed them at a later date, apologizing to his fans. The 57-year-old Purple Rain singer did not elaborate to fans what his illness had been. He appeared healthy and was able to perform the make-up concerts in Atlanta without any apparent difficulty, but several days later he cancelled shows in St. Louis, again citing health concerns. He died just days later.
Prince, known for his private and complex nature, has never been known to have problems with drugs, prescription or otherwise. However, severe orthopedic pain is commonly treated with opiates like Percocet, so it’s possible his alleged overdose of Percocet in Illinois was accidental. Prince, slight of frame, was just five feet two inches tall, so a potent narcotic may affect him more than it would a larger person.
The autopsy that was performed on Prince will not only show if he had any internal physical issues, such as blood clots or infection, but will also include a toxicology panel which may show if he had taken any prescription drugs and how much he had taken.
Recently, there has been much discussion in the U.S. about opioid painkillers, their indications, and prescribing policies. Drugs like Percocet have been indicated in the rising heroin crisis and therefore physicians are more reluctant to prescribe them due to their strong addictive nature.
[Photo by Liu Heung Shing/AP]