Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

Did Prince know that he was taking fentynal?

The complete story behind the death of Prince in April of this year is still being uncovered. An autopsy revealed that the 57-year-old music icon died of a fentynal overdose. That's a synthetic opioid that is about 50 times as strong as heroin.

The increase of fentynal-related overdose deaths has increased significantly, particularly in certain areas of the country -- including here in South Florida. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, fentanyl-related deaths jumped more than 300 percent in Miami-Dade County and 100 percent in Broward County between the first half of 2014 and the same period in 2015. Often the drugs come to the country illegally from Mexico and China.

One particularly deadly aspect of the drugs is that people often don't even realize what they're taking. Whether Prince knew what he had or not hasn't been determined. He reportedly had no prescriptions for fentynal or any controlled substances in the year leading up to his death, at least in his home state of Minnesota.

A source close to the investigation into Prince's death says that some two dozen pills labeled as "Watson 385" were found in the musician's Paisley Park mansion. That label is used for drugs that contain a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. However, they reportedly actually contained fentynal as well as other powerful drugs. He had toxic levels of fentynal in his system after his death.

It still hasn't been determined how or from whom he obtained them. He did see a doctor the day before his death. That doctor reportedly told law enforcement that he prescribed medication to his patient on that day. However, it was not reported what he prescribed or if the doctor has been linked to the counterfeit drugs found in Paisley Park. A number of other drugs besides the ones containing fentynal were also found there.

There are all sorts of ways to self-medicate using powerful prescription drugs. Many people turn to illegal sources for the drugs. Whenever you take drugs that aren't prescribed to you, even if you get them from a friend, you can never be certain of what's in them or how they will affect you. Not only are you endangering your physical health, but you are breaking the law.

Source: CBS News, "Official: Pills found at Prince's estate contained fentanyl," Aug. 22, 2016

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