Prince battled painkiller addiction, help sought too late
By Associated Press | May 4, 2016, 13:27 EDT
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prince’s representatives arranged for the musician to meet a California doctor to help him kick an addiction to painkillers shortly before his death, according to a newspaper report published Wednesday.
Prince’s representatives called Dr. Howard Kornfeld on April 20, the day before the musician died, to seek emergency help, attorney William Mauzy told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Mauzy, who is representing the Kornfeld family, said Kornfeld couldn’t immediately meet Prince, so he sent his son Andrew on a flight from San Francisco that night to discuss treatment in a meeting planned for the next day. Mauzy said it was Andrew Kornfeld — who works in his father’s practice — who called 911 when Prince’s unresponsive body was found in an elevator at Paisley Park, Prince’s suburban Minneapolis compound.
Mauzy, Howard Kornfeld and Andrew Kornfeld didn’t immediately respond to Wednesday messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation has told AP that investigators are looking into whether Prince died from an overdose. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk about the investigation. The same official also said investigators are looking at whether Prince had suffered an overdose when his plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, less than a week before he died.
Howard 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.” His son Andrew is listed on the website as a practice consultant.
Mauzy told the newspaper that Prince representatives called Kornfeld the night of April 20 because Prince “was dealing with a grave medical emergency.”
Howard Kornfeld sent his son to explain how the confidential treatment would work, Mauzy said.
“The plan was to quickly evaluate his health and devise a treatment plan,” Mauzy said. “The doctor was planning on a lifesaving mission.”
Mauzy said Andrew Kornfeld arrived at Paisley Park at 9:30 a.m. on April 21 and was one of three people who found Prince’s body. Mauzy said it was Kornfeld who called 911. A record of the 911 call shows the caller didn’t know the address of the compound and mistakenly said it was in Minneapolis, rather than in the suburb of Chanhassen.
The elder Kornfeld is an advocate for using buprenorphine, which he says on his website is a treatment option for patients with addiction issues that offers pain relief with less possibility of overdose and addiction.
Mauzy told the Star Tribune that Andrew Kornfeld had a small amount of buprenorphine to give to Prince, but it was never administered. Mauzy said Kornfeld gave the medication to investigators.
Authorities haven’t released a cause of death. An autopsy was done the day after Prince’s death, but its findings, including the toxicology results, weren’t expected for as many as four weeks.
Mauzy said Andrew Kornfeld had been interviewed by Carver County investigators. Deputy Sheriff Jason Kamerud told the AP that he had no comment about the investigation. He also declined to confirm that Andrew Kornfeld had called authorities, saying information 911 callers is private data under Minnesota law.