MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Those closest to Prince’s autopsy are angered by reports claiming the powerful painkiller Percocet was found in his blood stream.
The Star Tribune cites an unnamed source close to the investigation for leaking those test results, but the Midwest Medical Examiner is not happy with the news reports.
They made it clear Thursday that the Chief Medical Examiner is the only one who knows the early results, and she’s not talking — not even to Carver County investigators.
When Prince’s body was brought to the Midwest Medical Examiner for the autopsy to determine his cause of death, toxicology tests were also performed. Lab analysis will show any presence of a controlled substance, like an opioid or pain killer.
Dr. Fred Apple runs the forensic testing lab at Hennepin County Medical Center.
“After that, we do another screening test by a technology called ‘mass spectometry,'” he said. “That is like the fingerprinting of drugs.”
Apple says they do an initial screening for opioids, but it takes further testing to identify a specific drug.
“It works for not just looking at the general class, it will identify oxycodone, it will identify morphine, hydromorphone, fentanyl, and all the other opiates.”
The presence of oxycodone would indicate the painkiller Percocet. Prince’s use of Percocet has been widely reported. He was allegedly prescribed it back in 2009 for hip pain.
But the Midwest Medical Examiner made it clear Thursday that they haven’t leaked any findings in a tersely worded statement, saying it has, “not released any information regarding the Prince Rogers Nelson investigation to anyone, including law enforcement. Results are pending.”
Once the lab identifies a specific drug, they’ll quantify it to see how much was in the person’s body. The problem is, everyone metabolizes drugs differently. What’s therapeutic for one can be fatal to another.