Ex-players sue NFL over use of painkillers
Opening another legal attack on the NFL over the long-term health of its athletes, a group of retired players accused the league in a lawsuit Tuesday of cynically supplying them with powerful painkillers and other drugs that kept them in the game but led to serious complications later in life.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages on behalf of more than 500 ex-athletes, charges the NFL with putting profits ahead of players' health.
To speed injured athletes' return to the field, team doctors and trainers dispensed drugs illegally, without obtaining prescriptions or warning of the possible side effects, the plaintiffs contend.
Some football players said they were never told they had broken bones and were instead fed pills to mask the pain. One said that instead of surgery, he was given anti-inflammatory drugs and excused from practices so he could play in games. Others said that after years of free pills from the NFL, they retired addicted to painkillers.
Federal and State Drug Laws
Prescription drugs are considered "controlled substances." The federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act makes it clear that the only legal way to access prescription drugs is to have a doctor's prescription. An excerpt:
...No controlled substance in schedule II, which is a prescription drug as determined under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 301 et seq.), may be dispensed without the written prescription of a practitioner.
Even Doctors Can Break the Law
Sometimes even when a doctor does prescribe a drug, it is illegal to do so. For example, if a doctor writes a prescription for too many pills - either knowing that they are going to be resold or knowing that the amount is way too much medication for a single patient - that too can be a crime.