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Was a California doctor acting legally when he sent his son to Prince’s home with a drug often used to treat people addicted to opiates such as prescription painkillers?

Dr. Howard Kornfeld may have been trying to help, but he was not licensed to practice medicine in Minnesota and was not registered to care for patients there via telemedicine, as the state requires. His son, Andrew Kornfeld, who has been described as a pre-med student, was not a licensed prescriber.

The pair may need to rely on loopholes and broad, generous readings of federal and state laws to justify why the younger Kornfeld carried buprenorphine to Minnesota on an April 20 redeye flight. Attorneys and physicians have described the action as unusual and even absurd.

Dozens of doctors are authorized to prescribe buprenorphine in Minnesota, so it’s unclear why Kornfeld felt he needed to send his son with the drug, which is used to ease withdrawal and cravings.

The Kornfelds did not respond to several messages this week from The Associated Press. No one has suggested that Prince took the buprenorphine provided by them.

Their attorney, William Mauzy, has said that he believes Andrew Kornfeld — who placed the 911 call when Prince was found unresponsive at his home — is protected from any charges by a Minnesota law that generally shields anyone seeking medical assistance for a person overdosing on drugs.

Mauzy did not immediately respond to a request Thursday for an interview.

Regulators in Minnesota have several ways they could approach the situation. Minnesota’s medical board has jurisdiction to investigate someone who practices medicine without a state license or a telemedicine registration.

Dr. Kornfeld did not have either, said Ruth Martinez, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice. Martinez said she could not comment on whether the board is investigating Kornfeld’s actions or whether it has received a complaint.

The Minnesota telemedicine law has an exemption for “an emergency medical condition,” but it’s questionable whether that would be enough to cover a situation in which a doctor without a Minnesota license sent a Schedule III controlled substance across state lines with a person who was not a physician.

Minneapolis defense attorney Joe Friedberg said it’s illegal to prescribe a controlled substance without a face-to-face meeting with the patient.

Cody Wiberg, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, agreed, saying prescriptions for controlled substances “are not legal unless there has been an in-person examination of the patient.”

Kornfeld never met or spoke to Prince before Prince’s representatives contacted him on April 20, according to Mauzy, who said Kornfeld arranged for Prince to be evaluated by a Minnesota physician on April 21, the day he died. The attorney refused to identify the Minnesota doctor, and it was not clear if that person had a prior relationship with Prince.

Did Prince’s concerns about privacy force Kornfeld to act as he did?

“Sometimes the patient dictates the ground rules and you do your best to help them,” said Dr. R. Corey Waller, a pain and addiction specialist at Spectrum Health Medical Group in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Autopsy results have not been released. Toxicology tests may show what, if any, drugs were in Prince’s system when he died and whether any were at levels high enough to be dangerous.

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9 thoughts on “Questions Arise About California Doctor’s Response To Prince

  1. There are several issues which need to be addressed. What is the timeline, why an out of state physician. What exactly happened on the plane for the pilot to state that there was an unresponsive passenger. Too many Americans are succumbing to the overuse of prescription drugs. As part of the medical community, we have to do better which includes nurses, physicians, pharmacists, therapists, etc to prevent needless deaths due to overprescribing or overuse of prescription drugs.

  2. pac on said:

    Drug addiction is a sad situation regardless of the who, what, when & how. This amazing, talented man is gone. It took two (or more) to complete this transaction but only one paid with his life – let’s leave him alone and let him rest in peace – he has paid the price and the Dove’s are crying for real!

  3. Lawrence on said:

    The Scholar is here to set the record straight. First off, you have to come to terms that Prince was abusing drugs. It makes him no less of an accomplished artist, but the facts are undeniable, so let’s move on. Secondly, you can’t go to a legit physician and get the supply of drugs that he was purported to be ingesting, at least not in quantity. Lastly, so that there is no medical record or audit trail, you have to deal with gray market “doctors” and holistic gurus. Just look at baseball and football players doing steroids. They can afford the best medical treatment, yet they are supplied by drug running trainers.
    Both sides know going in, they are doing illegal things, and it could get messy. Such is the power of addiction. You take risks. So for you Peeps to question the doctor, his credentials, or what his son was doing delivering, is way off base. Prince knew exactly what he was doing and accepted those risks.

    No cover up, no blame whitey, no nothing. Addiction is sad, but it is self inflicted.
    The Scholar will now take questions or constructive debate.
    -Holla’

  4. specialt757 on said:

    Okay wait, why would doctor need to bring another doctor drugs to administer to a patient? Why couldn’t the doctor Prince was “scheduled” to see get his own prescription? You know what I must be missing something, this doesn’t make sense. Was this really the “son’s” prescription? I guess there really does need to be an investigation, Prince’s death may have been caused by one or more people.

  5. STOPTHEKILLINGS on said:

    THE DOCTOR AND THE SON WERE OUT OF BOUNDS AND SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT. FOR GOD’S SAKE HE IS A DOCTOR, AND THE SON IS NOT. WHY JEPORDIZE YOUR LICENSE AND THE SOON TO BE LICENSE OF YOUR SON? DID YOU LET THE FACT THAT THIS WAS A HIGH PRICED ARTIST LURE YOU INTO MAKING A BAD DECISION? THEN YOU SHALL REAP THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS.

  6. ButterPecan on said:

    When he bought the drug across state lines, he broke the law, He wasn’t going to administer the drug himself. Supposedly, he bought the drug for another doctor to give to Prince. I hope the state doesn’t prosecute him. He was just trying to save a life. He did no harm to Prince just apparently did not know Minnesota laws.

    • LaToyia on said:

      Why would he need to bring a drug to give to another doctor? Could that Doctor not have wrote his own prescription for that very drug? I think that that is a cover to protect the son and that the son was indeed going to give Prince the medication himself if Prince was alive when he got there. I also question that another Doctor even exists. Prince gave permission to his people to contact the doctor in California in order to enter rehab, but he also wanted it to be kept very quiet, so why would that doctor than go and notify another Doctor about Prince’s drug habit when he was told that Prince wanted to keep the his drug situation under wraps. why wouldn’t Prince just contact the Doctor in Minnesota himself. I think that there was no doctor in Minnesota and this doctor may just have fabricated this story to cover his back, so that neither he nor his son would be in trouble.

      • Lawrence on said:

        So Prince should take no responsibility for his addiction? You sound like a straight up fool. Get to steppin’ before I have to flex on your hair hatted self.

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