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Prince appears to have had a problem with pain pills, one that grew so acute that his friends turned to an addiction doctor just before his death.

Prince Rogers Nelson had an unflinching reputation among those close to him for leading an assiduously clean lifestyle. He ate vegan and preferred to avoid the presence of meat entirely. He was known to eschew alcohol and marijuana, and no one who went on tour with him could indulge either.

But Prince appears to have shielded from even some of his closest friends that he had a problem with pain pills, one that grew so acute that his friends sought urgent medical help from Dr. Howard Kornfeld of California, who specializes in treating people addicted to pain medication.

Dr. Kornfeld, who runs a treatment center in Mill Valley, Calif., sent his son on an overnight flight to meet with Prince at his home to discuss a treatment plan, said William J. Mauzy, a lawyer for the Kornfeld family, during a news conference on Wednesday outside his Minneapolis office.

But he arrived too late.

When the son, Andrew Kornfeld, who works with his father but is not a doctor, arrived in Chanhassen, the Minneapolis suburb where Prince lived, the next morning, he was among those who found the entertainer lifeless in the elevator and called 911, Mr. Mauzy said. Emergency officials arrived but could not revive Prince. He was dead at 57.

As law enforcement officials continue to investigate exactly what killed the pop and rock icon, there is mounting evidence that he had become seriously dependent on painkillers, something sure to rattle some of those who knew him well. Many have insisted in recent days that they never even saw Prince take pills, let alone abuse prescription medication, even though some knew he had had hip surgery years ago.

When his private jet had to make an emergency landing in Moline, Ill., in mid-April after he went unresponsive, friends decided they may need to intervene, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Prince assured his friends in the following days that nothing was wrong. He had the flu, his publicist said.

“I’m doing perfect,” Prince told his lawyer, L. Londell McMillan, two days after the emergency landing. Three days after that conversation with Mr. McMillan, though, Prince’s representatives were looking for help from an addiction doctor.

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