Sunday 25 June 2017

Court documents reveal Prince's battle with addiction in days before death

By David Mercer

The unsealed papers did not reveal how the music superstar obtained the the fentanyl that killed him.

Newly-released documents in the investigation into Prince’s death suggest a doctor and a close friend helped him improperly obtain prescription opioid painkillers.

But the court papers, which were unsealed on Monday, shed no light on how the music superstar got the the fentanyl that killed him.

Authorities searched Prince’s Paisley Park estate as well as the singer’s email accounts and mobile phone records of his associates to try to find out how he got the fentanyl, a synthetic opioid drug 50 times more powerful than heroin.

Associates at Paisley Park told investigators that Prince was recently “going through withdrawals, which are believed to be the result of the abuse of prescription medication.”

The Purple Rain star was 57 when he was found unresponsive in a lift at Paisley Park estate on April 21.

Just six days earlier, he fell ill on a plane and had to be revived with two doses of a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

Dr Michael Todd Schulenberg told authorities he prescribed the opioid painkiller oxycodone to Prince but put it under the name of the singer’s bodyguard and close friend, Kirk Johnson, “for Prince’s privacy”, according to the court documents.

In a statement, Schulenberg’s lawyer Amy Conner said her client “never directly prescribed opioids to Prince, nor did he ever prescribe opioids to any other person with the intent that they would be given to Prince.”

Johnson’s lawyer Clayton Tyler released a statement saying that after reviewing the documents, “we believe that it is clear that Kirk Johnson did not secure nor supply the drugs which caused Prince’s death”.

Schulenberg is practising family medicine in Minnesota and there are no restrictions on his licence, his lawyer said.

It is illegal for a doctor to write a prescription for someone under another person’s name.

The documents said Prince did not have any prescriptions, including for fentanyl.

Oxycodone, the generic name for the active ingredient in OxyContin, was not listed as a cause of Prince’s death.

A search of Prince’s home found a number of pills in various containers.

Some were in prescription bottles for Johnson, while others were in bottles marked “Watson 853″, a label used for a drug that is a mix of acetaminophen and hydrocodone, another opioid painkiller.

Authorities also found a pamphlet for an addiction recovery centre in California, the documents show.

The day before Prince died, Paisley Park workers contacted the California addiction specialist as they were trying to get Prince help.

Press Association

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