Counterfeit Pills the Most Likely Culprit in Prince's Overdose

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In the ongoing investigation of Prince’s sudden death in April, police seized mislabeled pill bottles from the late musician’s Paisley Park compound this morning. The pill bottles, labeled as hydrocodone, actually contained fentanyl, the drug ruled as Prince’s cause of death.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can potentially be 50 times stronger than heroin. According to the Associated Press, citing “an official close to the investigation,” an Aleve pill bottle found at the compound contained what was apparently a hydrocodone/acetaminophen pill stamped “Watson 385.” However, at least one of those pills tested positive for fentanyl. Another seized pill bottle labeled as aspirin contained lidocaine, a local anesthetic, and U-47700, another potent synthetic opioid.

Investigators now believe that Prince took the fatal dose fentanyl on accident—he likely took drugs he believed to be hydrocodone or aspirin, which in actuality were counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. Prince’s tragic death marks another fatality in a string of accidental fentanyl-related overdoses as a result of Chinese-produced fentanyl finding its way into counterfeit pill production.

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