Counterfeit pills found at Prince’s home contain powerful opioid fentanyl

Synthetic drug 50 times stronger than heroin found in dozens of pills, with mislabelled drugs found in luggage belonging to late music star

Several pills taken from Princes estate in Paisley Park after his death were counterfeit drugs that actually contained fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin, an official close to the investigation said on Sunday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation, said many pills were falsely labelled as Watson 385. According to, that stamp is used to identify pills containing a mix of acetaminophen and hydrocodone.

About a dozen tablets were found in a dressing room at Paisley Park, but the vast majority was in bottles of Vitamin C and aspirin that had been tucked inside a suitcase and bags, including one Prince often carried with him.

Autopsy results released in June show Prince died 21 April of an accidental fentanyl overdose. The official said records show the 57-year-old Prince had no prescription for any controlled substances in the state of Minnesota in the 12 months before he died. Authorities are still investigating how Prince obtained the drugs.

Fentanyl has been responsible for a surge in overdose deaths in some parts of the country. When it is made into counterfeit pills, users do not always know they are taking fentanyl, increasing the risk of fatal overdose. The Star Tribune first reported about the mislabelled pills in a story published on its website late on Saturday.

One pill with the Watson 385 stamp that was analyzed by the Minnesota bureau of criminal apprehension tested positive for fentanyl, lidocaine and another drug. Officials found nearly two dozen pills similar to the one that was tested, the official said.

Another aspirin bottle had 64 counterfeit tablets in it. Some pills that were analyzed contained fentanyl, lidocaine and U-4770, a synthetic drug that is eight times more powerful than morphine.

Authorities also found a prescription bottle in someone elses name that contained 10 oxycodone pills, the official said, without revealing who was listed on the prescription.

The official said Prince had many of these pills with him on 15 April <a href=”” data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>when the aircraft he was on made an emergency stop in Moline, Illinois, after he fell ill from a suspected drug overdose as he was heading home from a performance in Atlanta. Prince was given two doses of Narcan, an antidote used to reverse suspected opioid overdoses, the official said.

The official said roughly 20 different bottles or pill containers had been analyzed.

U-4770 can be tested for in toxicology screens, but this is not done routinely because it is a relatively new chemical. Presence of the drug was not tested in Princes case, but the levels of fentanyl in his system were more than enough to be toxic, the official said.

Tests on Prince before his death did not show fentanyl in his system, which means he was not a long-time abuser of that drug, but probably took the fatal dose in the 24 hours before he died, the official said.

The official did not elaborate on those tests. But at least one doctor, Michael Todd Schulenberg, saw Prince on 7 April and again on 20 April, the day before he died. According to a search warrant, he told a detective he had ordered tests for Prince and prescribed medications. Schulenbergs attorney, Amy Conners, has said patient-privacy laws do not allow her to say what the prescriptions were.

The autopsy report also shows Prince had diazepam, lidocaine and hydrocodone acids in his body, the official said. Diazepam is an anti-anxiety pill sold as Valium. It is a sedative and can also be used to control seizures, which Prince suffered from as a child. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic.

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