DEA investigating distribution of prescription drugs in NFL, report says


(Gene J. Puskar / AP)

A recent lawsuit in which former NFL players allege they were improperly supplied prescription pain medication has triggered an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York Daily News reports.

Authorities from the DEA’s New York division are speaking with former players about how team physicians and trainers distributed drugs like Percodan, Vicodin and Toradol, seeking to “find out who provided and distributed the drugs,” an unnamed source told Michael O’Keeffe of the News.

In late May, a group of former players filed a class-action lawsuit in which they claim they were illegally given prescription drugs in order to stay on the field and were not told of long-term risks, like drug dependence, nerve damage and renal failure. Among nine named lead plaintiffs are former Chicago Bears players Jim McMahon and Richard Dent and Marcellus Wiley.

“The allegations in our lawsuit, that the NFL has violated state and federal drug laws, have been confirmed by over 1,300 former NFL players,” Steve Silverman, an attorney for the former players, told the News. “We are pleased to learn that the DEA and United States Department of Justice are also taking our clients’ allegations seriously and are actively protecting the welfare of NFL players.”

The NFL declined to comment for the News.

The NFL and retired players recently reached a settlement of a concussion lawsuit. Now, drugs will be the subject of increased attention. As part of a five-part series examining medicine in the NFL last year, The Washington Post surveyed more than 500 former players and one in four said he felt pressure from team doctors to take medication he was uncomfortable with. Nearly nine in 10 reported playing despite injuries and an overwhelming number — 68 percent — said they did felt they had no option other than to play.

Related: Pain management spawns culture of use and abuse

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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