As the opioid epidemic has swept the country, some doctors and pharmaceutical companies are finding themselves on the defendant’s side of the table in personal injury and wrongful death suits related to abuse of these drugs.
Historically, there is some precedent to hold physicians liable for causing addiction by negligently prescribing certain controlled substances. In some cases, doctors have even been found criminally responsible for overdose deaths.
Now, the latest physicians to find themselves accused of wrongdoing are those associated with the National Football League. According to court records contained in a federal lawsuit filed by former players, NFL teams allegedly violated federal statutes regarding prescription drugs, disregarded guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration on how to store, track and transport these drugs and plied players with highly addictive painkillers during the season. These records are under seal, but were reviewed by The Washington Post.
As doctors, the top priority would be to “do no harm.” Physicians for these teams were in charge of managing pain for modern-day gladiators, embroiled in a sport in which pain is inherent and players are expected to barrel through it. Players allege that in order to keep them on the field, doctors flouted strict federal laws that dictate how teams can handle and prescribe these medications.
There were reportedly numerous instances in which league and team officials were notified of players’ dependence or abuse of prescription drugs, as well as lapses in record-keeping and violations of federal drug laws. The filing asserts that thus far every doctor deposed has conceded to violating at least one or more federal drug regulations and laws while working as a team doctor. In many cases, as of seven years ago, most clubs had trainers who were responsible for the control and distribution of pain medications and other controlled substances – something that should have fallen under the purview of physicians.
Medical staffers reportedly were cavalier about federal laws regarding distribution of painkillers. In one case, a head trainer reportedly requested a copy of a doctor’s DEA certificate in order to keep the “pill counters… off the trail.”
A spokesman for the NFL insists the personal injury allegations are without merit. The teams reportedly intend to “vigorously defend” the claims made by the former players.
Injury attorneys are representing approximately 1,800 former players who say they have suffered long-term injuries such as joint damage and organ failure as a result of deceptive and improper drug distribution by the team.
Although this information was all supposed to be sealed, The Washington Post was able to view it apparently due to a technical error in the filing process. However, the reporter was not able to see most of the supporting records.
The records show that in 2012, there was a total of nearly 5,800 doses of anti-inflammatory drugs and more than 2,200 doses of controlled medications prescribed to players. Although this would even out to about seven painkillers/ injections per player each week, the reality is it’s not likely these medications were distributed evenly to all players.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
NFL abuse of painkillers and other drugs described in court filings, March 9, 2017, By Rick Maese, The Washington Post
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