Doctor who ‘illegally prescribed Prince opioid painkillers to pay $30K fine

The Minnesota doctor accused of illegally prescribing an opioid painkiller for Prince just one week before the musician died from a fatal fentanyl overdose has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a federal civil violation.

Dr. Michael Todd Schulenberg agreed to the settlement with the US Attorney’s Office, while others who cared for the singer are still waiting to see if state prosecutors file any criminal charges following their two-year investigation into the Prince’s death.

Schulenberg is not currently a target of any criminal investigation according to both federal prosecutors and his attorney, Amy Conners.

She said in a statement on Thursday that ‘there have been no allegations made by the Government that Dr. Schulenberg had any role in Prince’s death.’

Prince died of a self-administered Fentanyl overdose according to an autopsy report released by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office.

The 57-year-old singer’s death was ruled an accident, and the only listed cause on the medical examiner’s report was ‘Fentanyl toxicity’.

Gine too soon: The doctor who prescribed Prince opioid painkillers just before his death will pay a $30,000 fine

The autopsy report also revealed that the 5ft 3in singer weighed just 112lbs at the time of his death, and that he was dressed entirely in black (cap, pants, shirt, socks and boxer briefs) when his unresponsive body was discovered on April 21 inside an elevator at his Paisley Park estate just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Prince’s former drug dealer believed opioids were behind the singer’s death when he spoke exclusively to

He also revealed that the performer would spend up to $40,000 on six-month supplies of two drugs – Dilaudid pills and Fentanyl patches. 

Prince’s dealer – who asked to be identified as Doctor D – said that he sold drugs to Prince from 1984 to 2008 and described the singer as ‘majorly addicted’.

He sold him the drugs he explained because Prince was too afraid of doctors to obtain a prescription, but also had stage fright and needed them to get out and perform on stage.

‘I first met Prince in 1984 while he was filming the movie Purple Rain and he was already majorly addicted to opiates – I didn’t hook him on drugs he was already a really heavy user,’ said Doctor D.

‘In the beginning he would buy speed as well as Dilaudid. I would sell him black beauties which were a black pill and cross tops which were also speed pills.

‘He would use that as a counter balance to get back up again from taking opiates.That lasted for a couple of years then he would just buy Dilaudid, which is a heroin based opiate. It is highly addictive.

‘As far as I knew he never took heroin – as that would leave you out of it for days whereas Dilaudid gives you an energy buzz as well as making you feel relaxed – so he preferred it.’

He went on to say about Prince: ‘He needed the drugs because he was so nervous – he could be nervous in a room with just five people in it.

‘He was scared to go out in public, he was scared to talk to people and didn’t like to go on stage – he had the worst case of stage fright I’d ever seen.

‘A lot of performers rely on drugs to make them feel confident on stage but he was by far the worse.

‘Plus he was always paranoid about doctors so he wouldn’t ask them for help – he had a phobia of them.

‘I was surprised when I heard he had been picking up prescriptions before he died.’ 

Doctor D also seemed to think that if Prince had been prescribed Percocet by a doctor that could have caused his death, suggesting that even Diludid would have been a safer choice for the singer.

It was reported shortly after Prince’s death that the highly addictive painkiller Percocet – which contains both acetaminophen and oxycodone – had been found in his system.

There were also reports around that time claiming Prince had been treated for an overdose of Percocet just six days before his death.

‘If Prince was just taking Dilaudid he would still be alive,’ he said.

‘It has less side effects than other opiate drugs such as Percocet but doctors don’t like to prescribe it because it’s one of the heaviest drugs.

‘The problem with Percocet is that it is an opiate mixed with Tylenol – but he would have been taking much more than the recommended dose because he had developed a tolerance to opiates over the years.

‘When you take that much Tylenol it can cause major problems – especially with your kidneys.

‘But doctors would have freaked out if they knew the extent of Prince’s drug problem and wouldn’t know what to do.’

He added about the singer: ‘He self medicated for years and was fine – so it wouldn’t have been the opiates that killed him but the Tylenol.

‘So perversely the doctors who thought they were helping him may have hurt him by prescribing Percocet.

‘Also if they did have to give him a save shot when he overdosed like everybody is saying – that removes all traces of drugs from your system so he would have started to go into withdrawal and would have had to take a lot of drugs to feel okay again – which also could have killed him.

‘You can’t just stop taking these drugs when you have taken them for so long.

‘But without knowing his drug history doctors wouldn’t have known that.

‘It explains why he was spotted looking nervous and pacing around at the pharmacy in the week before his death.’

Officials had said that the main reason the federal authorities had been brought in was so the investigation could cover the multiple states Prince had visited in the weeks before his death.

Prince’s private jet made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, six days before he died so he could be rushed to hospital.

The singer, who was flying from a show in Atlanta, was treated for flu and did not stay the night at the hospital.

He appeared at a dance party in Minnesota just days before his death to let his fans know he was recovering, telling them: ‘Wait a few days before you waste any prayers.’

Prince was last pictured the night before his death leaving a Walgreen’s near his home around 7pm, marking the fourth time the singer had been to the pharmacy that week.

An hour later, he headed back inside his vast estate and 13 hours later he was found by friend Kirk Johnson and personal assistant Meron Bekure lying unresponsive in an elevator.

Paramedics performed CPR upon arriving on the scene five minutes after receiving a 911 call but were not successful in reviving the singer.

Officials later stated that the singer was likely dead for approximately six hours before his body was found.

An autopsy was performed the following day.

The day before Prince died, his representatives reached out to California doctor Dr Howard Kornfeld to arrange a meeting according to a lawyer for the doctor.

Attorney William Mauzy said Dr Kornfeld had never met or spoken to Prince before Prince’s representatives contacted him on April 20.

Mauzy said Dr Kornfeld was not able to travel immediately to Minnesota, so he arranged for his son Andrew to go instead.

Andrew Kornfeld took a late flight on April 20 so he could be at Prince’s Paisley Park studio complex the next morning. When he got there, he was with Johnson and Burke when they found Prince in the elevator, and it was he who called 911. 

Mauzy said Andrew was carrying a small amount of buprenorphine, which is used to treat addiction and offers pain relief with less possibility of overdose and addiction.

He added that Andrew never intended to give the medication to Prince, and instead planned to give it to the Minnesota doctor who was scheduled to see Prince.

The identity of that doctor is still not known at this time.

Mauzy also said the elder Kornfeld arranged for a Minnesota doctor to evaluate Prince, and that the doctor had cleared his schedule for the following morning but Prince was found unresponsive before that could happen.

‘Dr. Kornfeld was never able to meet Prince, never talked to Prince, and sadly, unable to arrive in time to help Prince,’ Mauzy told reporters.

When asked about the legality of his carrying buprenorphine, Mauzy declined to answer. But he said he believed Minnesota law would protect Andrew from any potential charges related to Prince’s death.

Under the law, a person who seeks medical assistance for someone who is overdosing on drugs may not be prosecuted for possessing or sharing controlled substances, under certain circumstances.

Mauzy said it was not uncommon for Dr Kornfeld to send his son on his behalf.

He said Andrew is a pre-med student and that convincing people to seek treatment is something ‘he has done for years’.

The same official also said investigators are looking at whether Prince had suffered an overdose when his plane made the emergency landing in Illinois.

Dr Kornfeld runs Recovery Without Walls in Mill Valley, California. His website describes the practice as ‘specializing in innovative, evidence-based medical treatment for chronic pain and drug and alcohol addiction’.

Andrew is listed on the website as a practice consultant.

Mauzy said Prince’s representatives told Dr Kornfeld that the singer was ‘dealing with a grave medical emergency’, however the doctor did not explain what the issue was.

Mauzy said Dr Kornfeld hoped to get Prince ‘stabilized in Minnesota and convince him to come to Recovery Without Walls in Mill Valley. That was the plan’.

Stuart Gitlow, an addiction medicine expert speaking without direct knowledge of Prince’s case, questioned whether Dr Kornfeld and his son acted appropriately.

‘If a physician feels that a patient is having an emergency, his obligation is to call an ambulance and get the patient to emergency personnel who can assess the situation — not to fly to the patient,’ Gitlow said.

‘It’s not routine for doctors to fly across the country to start people on buprenorphine,’ said Gitlow, a past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and a faculty member of the University of Florida.

‘That’s something that can be handled locally.’

Prince, who over the course of his career won seven Grammy Awards, seemed to live a remarkably healthy life, having been a strict vegan for over a decade and becoming a Jehovah’s Witness in 2001, a faith that largely prohibits the consumption of alcohol.