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Prince performs in a surprise appearance on the "American Idol" television show finale in 2006. Photo by Chris Pizzello/Reuters

Prince died of an opioid overdose, autopsy reveals

An autopsy shows that singer and musician Prince died of an opioid overdose at his studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota, on April 21, the Associated Press reported.

Minnesota health officials said the singer accidentally overdosed on fentanyl, a substance used in painkiller medications.

The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, based in Anoka County, Minnesota, led an investigation into the death, and waited until toxicology tests were complete before releasing the autopsy results, according to Rolling Stone.

Prince, 57, was hospitalized the week before his death for a health issue that caused his plane to make an emergency landing in Illinois. At the time, representatives for the singer said he was battling the flu. But The New York Times reported in May that prior to his death, he had struggled with addiction to pain pills, and that close friends had recently reached out to Dr. Howard Kornfeld of California, a specialist in opioid addiction, to ask for help.

The night before Prince’s death, Kornfeld sent his son to Minnesota, hoping that the two could discuss treatment options.

Public health interest in opioid abuse has ​surged in recent years as overdose deaths have sharply increased. 28,647 people died from overdoses involving opioids in 2014, a 14 percent increase from the previous year.

President Barack Obama recently addressed the issue at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta. “I think the public doesn’t fully appreciate yet the scope of the problem,” he said at the summit. In February, Obama proposed to allocate $1.1 billion in federal funding toward the treatment of opioid addiction.

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