Skip Nav

How Did Prince Die?

Prince's Death Was Caused by "Counterfeit" Vicodin Pills Laced With Fentanyl — Here's What We Know

New details about Prince's death have been revealed, two years after he passed away from an accidental opioid overdose. On Thursday, Carver County, MN attorney Mike Metz announced that there will be no criminal charges filed in the music legend's death, which was caused by taking counterfeit Vicodin pills that were laced with fentanyl. "Prince had no idea he was taking a counterfeit pill that could kill him," the attorney said in a press conference. Because there is no evidence of how he obtained the pills, there is no way to file criminal charges.

Despite that, Dr. Michael Schulenberg, the Minnesota physician who saw Prince in the weeks before his death, has agreed to pay $30,000 to the US to "settle civil allegations that he prescribed drugs to someone else knowing that Prince would take them." The doctor put a Percocet prescription in the name of Kirk Johnson, Prince's former drummer and friend, "in order to protect Prince's privacy."

According to a previously confidential toxicology report obtained by the Associated Press, the "Purple Rain" singer had an "exceedingly high" concentration of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid used to manage chronic pain, in his body when he died.


While the report explains "fatalities have been documented with people with blood levels ranging from three to 58 micrograms per liter," Prince's blood had 67.8 micrograms per liter. "The amount in his blood is exceedingly high, even for somebody who is a chronic pain patient on fentanyl patches," Rutgers New Jersey Medical School emergency medicine chairman Dr. Lewis Nelson told the AP, adding that the fentanyl concentrations are "a pretty clear smoking gun."

It was reported not long after his death that Prince had been struggling with an addiction to painkillers and was scheduled to meet with a specialist on April 22, just one day after his passing. Prince was found dead at his Minnesota estate on April 21, 2014. The 57-year-old was cremated later that week, and a small service was held in his honor for family and close friends.

Image Source: Getty / AFP
Latest Celebrity & Entertainment
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds