Pills found at Prince’s home following the musician’s death in April contained the highly powerful opioid fentanyl, but were mislabelled, it has emerged.
Officials investigating the singer’s death told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the pills in question had been labelled as “Watson 385”, a designation for pills containing the weaker painkillers acetaminophen and hydrocone.
Prince, 57, was found dead in a lift at his Paisley Park home in Minneapolis on 21 April. An autopsy found that he had died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid said to be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin.
Officials told the Associated Press that the Purple Rain star had no prescriptions for any controlled substance at the time of his death, and authorities are continuing to investigate how he obtained the drugs that killed him.
Some 700 Americans overdosed on fentanyl in 2015, with the opioid now a major part of the illegal drugs market. In Connecticut alone, the number of fentanyl-related deaths rose by more than 150 per cent last year.
Investigators reportedly found around a dozen of the counterfeit tablets in a dressing room at Prince’s home, but most of the singer’s supply were stashed in aspirin and Vitamin C bottles that he is thought to have carried when he travelled.
The pills contained not just fentanyl but several other drugs such as U-4770, another strong, synthetic painkiller. The unnamed official told AP that tests conducted on Prince prior to his death showed no evidence of fentanyl in his system, suggesting he was not a long-time user of the drug and likely took the fatal dose in the hours leading up to his death.
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