The NFL has been in the news quite a bit lately due to their prescription drug practices. Now they’re in the news again, and not for anything good. Just recently, a few democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have “reached out to the NFL and the Drug Enforcement Administration, demanding an explanation” of the league’s “prescription drug practices.” In fact, as of Wednesday, four lawmakers had sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the DEA’s acting administrator, Chuck Rosenberg, looking for answers. All of this comes in the wake of a recent lawsuit filed by “former players against NFL teams, alleging teams mishandled and improperly administered powerful pain medication for years.”
Understandably, many lawmakers are concerned about the lawsuit filed by former players, and some congressional leaders even stated in the letter to Goodell that “these allegations suggest a troubling lack of respect for the laws governing the handling of controlled substances, and raise questions about the league’s dedication to the health and safety of its players.”
So who are these lawmakers stepping forward to say enough is enough? Well, so far they include Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and they appear to be coming to the former player’s defense, noting in their letter to Goodell that the allegations of painkiller abuse “paints a troubling picture of how the NFL teams prescribed and handled controlled substances and other prescription drugs, including the possibility that the team doctors and trainers violated federal laws and regulations.” They also wrote, “if true, the allegations raised by The Washington Post, and the underlying lawsuit referenced in the article, suggest team doctors and trainers may have engaged in unsafe medical practices.”
What former players are these lawmakers referring to? What painkiller abuse? For those who don’t know, a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of nearly 1,800 former players against a number of NFL teams, “painting a disturbing picture of the use of powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories.” Citing drug logs, emails, and interviews, the lawsuit “included descriptions of teams violating federal prescription drug laws, disregarding guidance about controlled substances from the Drug Enforcement Administration and giving medication to players without telling them what they were getting.”
At the time of the lawsuit, the NFL referred to the claims as “meritless.” However, now that members of Congress have gotten involved, the league will have to fork over some answers to questions like one posed in the letter to Goodell, which asked “whether non-physicians administered medications and whether players’ medical histories were taken into account when determining treatment.” The letter also inquired about “the league’s record-keeping practices and whether a powerful nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory called Toradol was administered off label.”
It seems the NFL is going to have their hands full answering all of these questions. With the lawsuit filed by former players and Congress to contend with, it will be interesting to see how everything plays out.