NFL Routinely Violated Laws on Prescription Drugs, Suit Says

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National Football League teams violated federal laws governing prescription drugs, disregarded Drug Enforcement Administration guidance on how to store, track, transport and distribute controlled substances, and plied players with powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories each season, the Washington Post reports, citing sealed court documents in a federal lawsuit filed by former players. The newspaper says sealed material “provides a rare look into the league’s relationship with drugs and how team doctors manage the pain inherent in a bruising sport to keep players on the field.”

Federal law contains strict guidelines for how teams can handle and dispense prescription drugs. The  court filing, which includes testimony and documents by team and league medical personnel, describes multiple instances in which team and league officials were made aware of abuses, record-keeping problems and even violations of federal law, and were either slow in responding or failed to comply. The filing asserts that “every doctor … has testified that they violated one or more” federal drug laws and regulations “while serving in their capacity as a team doctor.” Anthony Yates, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ doctor and past president of the NFL Physicians Society, testified in a deposition that “a majority of clubs as of 2010 had trainers controlling and handling prescription medications and controlled substances when they should not have.” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the allegations contained in the court filing “are meritless and the league and its clubs will continue to vigorously defend these claims.”


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