The story about a "life-saving mission" by a Bay Area opioid addiction specialist who was intending to treat Prince just one day prior to his death has grown, with the New York Times delving further late Wednesday into the root cause of Prince's alleged addiction: a hip problem that led to surgery in the mid-2000s. Now TMZ is blaring the headline that Andrew Kornfeld, the son of addiction doctor Howard Kornfeld, could face charges for transporting a quantity of the drug buprenorphine, or Suboxone, across state lines.
We learned yesterday that the younger Kornfeld flew out to Minnesota a day ahead of his father, only to arrive at Paisley Park to discover a lifeless Prince, alongside two of Prince's staff, in an elevator on the property. Kornfeld was the person who made the 911 call, and Prince was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m. on April 21, 19 minutes after emergency responders arrived. It's been widely reported that Prince had suffered an opioid overdose just six days before, on April 15, on board a private plane which then had to make an emergency landing in Indiana so he could receive a life-saving dose of naloxone, or Narcan.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting via a source close to the investigation that the drug Percocet was in fact found in Prince's system at the time of his death, even though official toxicology results could still be weeks away. The paper notes that the Drug Enforcement Agency and the US attorney’s office have joined local investigators following the revelation about Kornfeld's involvement, though his lawyer stated Wednesday that Andrew Kornfeld arrived too late to administer any drug.
It seems likely that emergency responders were unable to revive Prince with Narcan this time because he was already dead, and that the overdose had occurred too long before they arrived, though that has not been confirmed. It is recommended that Narcan be used within 30 minutes of a possible overdose.
Dr. Howard Kornfeld spoke exclusively with the SF Chronicle Wednesday, not about Prince's case, but in an effort, he said, to raise awareness about the epidemic of opioid addiction. "If this disease was not stigmatized, patients would seek care earlier and there would be less deaths," he tells the paper. "This isn’t a problem that should be solved by commercial industry. This is a national epidemic that needs to be prioritized, just as the AIDS epidemic was prioritized."
While some addiction treatment centers advocate for drug-free treatment, it's notable that the respected Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Minnesota added Suboxone to its treatment program for opioid addiction in 2013. As the Star Tribune explains, the drug helps limit cravings among addicts, and "Since that time, the number of opioid addicts dropping out of treatment early has declined from 25 percent to 5 percent."