In the never-ending saga of the NFL players' class action lawsuits against teams and the league, new information has surfaced about many teams' alleged failure to comply with federal drug laws. The allegations include claims that several teams' athletic trainers, doctors, and staff were administering and providing prescription drugs in clear violation of federal laws, even after the DEA cautioned teams against doing so. This class action suit involves close to 2,000 former players who suffered injury or damages as a result of these actions.
The new information came to light as a result of the discovery process in the player class action that was initially alleging that teams were pushing players to take painkillers in order to be able to perform better on the field. The reason the class action was allowed to continue in court, rather than being forced into arbitration like some other player actions have been, is due to the illegal conduct surrounding the administration of the federal controlled prescription drugs.
Drugs Before, During, and After Games
An allegation that has been highly controversial involves team trainers and other non-medical staff providing players with strong painkillers, including Vicodin and other addictive opioids. These drugs were apparently being provided before, during, and after games. Before games, painkillers were used preemptively so that players would not be bothered by initial onsets of pain. Additionally, it is alleged that many players were given medications without being told what they were being given.
Drugs Over the Border
One of the big allegations that has seemingly been substantiated by the court documents is that team doctors, trainers, and staff, administered prescription medications when in states where the doctors were not licensed to practice medicine. Because doctors are licensed by states, it is illegal for doctors to practice medicine in states where they have not been licensed. Since these allegations have been made public, the NFL has created a medical liaison program that assists team doctors in being able to administer and prescribe medications legally outside of their home state.
The attorneys for the players explained in court documents that every single team doctor that has been deposed as part of this case, has admitted to violating federal drug laws. Simply allowing athletic trainers to maintain the drugs is a violation of the federal drug laws.
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