Mislabelled pills found at Prince's home

Singer Prince (above) died on April 21 at his home and studio outside Minneapolis.
Singer Prince (above) died on April 21 at his home and studio outside Minneapolis.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHICAGO • Mislabelled pills were seized at the home of musician Prince after his death from an overdose of the powerful opioid fentanyl, said media reports on Monday.

He died on April 21 at his home and studio outside Minneapolis and investigators are trying to establish how he ingested fentanyl, with one theory being that he might have accidentally taken the drug because it was not properly labelled.

Pills containing fentanyl were seized at his home, but they were marked hydrocodone, the Star Tribune said, citing an unnamed source. The source also told the newspaper Prince did not possess a prescription for fentanyl.

Among medications found in a dressing room, and in suitcases and bags, was an Aleve bottle that contained pills stamped "Watson 385", which is used on hydrocodone-acetaminophen pills.

But at least one of those pills contained fentanyl, the Associated Press reported, also citing an anonymous source.

The Star Tribune said investigators were "leaning towards the theory that he took the pills not knowing they contained the drug".

Prince was found dead in his Paisley Park estate just as he prepared to discuss treatment with an expert on painkiller addiction.

Fentanyl, which is often sold illegally and has caused an epidemic of overdose deaths around the United States, is the most potent narcotic known, 50 times stronger than heroin.

In his death, Prince became a high-profile victim of the drug. The US Drug Enforcement Administration in a report last month said fentanyl was more widely available and killing more people than at any point since the drug's creation in 1959.

The agency said hundreds of thousands of counterfeit painkiller pills were on the US market, many containing fentanyl that was mass- produced in laboratories in China.

The megastar did not leave a will when he died unexpectedly at age 57. A flood of individuals have tried to make claims on his estate, which some have valued at more than US$500 million (S$675 million).

A judge excluded 29 would-be heirs last month, bolstering the claims of his sister and surviving half-siblings.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE- PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Mislabelled pills found at Prince's home'. Print Edition | Subscribe