Unless you are deaf (and probably even then), you were likely more than a little disappointed on April 21 when you found out the legend Prince passed away. Initially, you might have received this news with shock, adding yet another celebrity to that growing list of those we have lost this year. Of course, what you may not yet know is that the official cause of death has been released, and it makes his death that much more disappointing. According to the official report, his cause of death is related to a drug known as Fentanyl. But, what the hell is Fentanyl?
It’s an unfortunate truth, but in America today some of the biggest drug addictions do not come from some cheap street drug that is manufactured in a basement. Instead, the predominant trend is actually taking prescription drugs and using them excessively. This sort of drug abuse has caused pharmacists to adopt new policies that work to combat abuse, but no matter what steps are taken there is still a massive growth across the board. Drugs like Percocet and Oxycotin are quickly becoming the new big thing. Of course, Fentanyl makes these other drugs look like a simple ibuprofen by comparison.
Estimated by the CDC to be 80 times more potent than morphine and hundreds of times more potent that heroine, Fentanyl is not something to be messed with. It was originally formulated as a way for dying people to have a little bit of relief prior to the end. Offering relief in 5 minutes (or less sometimes) it hits you and really diminishes the pain. Since it only lasts for about an hour, it worked perfectly for those really grave situations or for those last moments. Unfortunately, doctors started doing what doctors do: over-prescribing.
Within about a decade of hitting the market, Fentanyl was already being abused. Throughout the 1970s it started to grow. In the 80s and 90s, it really started picking up. For authorities tracking the drug’s growth, the early 2000s were when things really got interesting though. It was this time that the CDC really started noticing the epidemic, and between 2005-2007 there were 1,013 deaths in the US attributed to overdoses from this drug. According to a report from the New York Times, the popularity of Fentanyl is even beginning to surpass heroine in some parts of the country.
While its never easy to think about a legend like Prince passing on at such a relatively young age, the fact that he lost his life due to an overdose of a common pain killer makes it that much more difficult to handle. What is wrong with the FDA that it approves drugs like this in the first place? If it is really that potent, it needs to be reserved for those instances where it is really necessary. A doctor shouldn’t be writing a script for a drug that wears off after an hour when the patient needs 24/7 pain killers.
Of course, the real sad part is that many assume Prince didn’t need this drug in the first place. When you have an idol like this, you don’t want to think of him suffering with some addiction. Instead, this situation brings to light just how human even the most talented individual is.