By Cheryl Steinberg
A Washington Post survey published in April of last year, found that, of more than 500 retired NFL players, one in four said he team doctors pressured them to take medication they were uncomfortable with taking. Players told The Post that they took prescription drugs on almost a daily basis, and frequently without documentation. Furthermore, nine in 10 former football players said they played while injured at some point in their careers, and more than two in three said they felt that they didn’t have a choice.
Prescription Pill Crackdown Within the NFL
Yesterday, Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents conducted surprise inspections of the medical staffs of National Football League teams as part of an ongoing investigation into claims of prescription drug abuse in the NFL. The inspections, consisting of bag searches and questioning of team doctors by DEA agents, were initiated as a result of suspicion that NFL teams illegally dispense drugs in order to keep players on the field – a violation of the Controlled Substances Act – according to a senior law enforcement official associated with the investigation.
Rusty Payne, a DEA spokesman, confirmed that the investigation did indeed exist and said it was spurred on by a class-action lawsuit that was filed in federal court back in May by more than 1,300 retired NFL players.
In the suit, the former players allege that NFL team medical staffs regularly violated federal and state laws by plying their players with powerful and addictive narcotics, such as Percocet, sleeping pills, such as Ambien, as well as the non-narcotic painkiller, Toradol, so that they could play through their injuries on game days.
In fact, a Washington University School of Medicine 2010 study of 644 former NFL players found that retired NFL players misuse opioids at a rate of four times that of non-players in their age bracket. This was indicated by either overusing opiate painkillers within the past 30 days, taking these drugs without a prescription — or both.
Players described being given unlabeled medications in hazardous combinations – a practice known as “stacking” or “cocktailing” medications, teams filling out prescriptions in players’ names without their knowledge, trainers passing out pills in hotels or locker rooms, and medications being given out on team planes after games – while alcohol was being consumed.
Federal law states that only a physician or nurse practitioner can distribute prescription drugs, and they must meet countless regulations for acquiring, storing, labeling and transporting them. Furthermore, it is also illegal for a physician to administer or distribute prescription drugs outside of their geographic area of practice. That said, it is illegal for trainers to dispense – or even handle – controlled substances in any way.
The DEA official also said that the investigation will focus on medical practices amongst all 32 teams that comprise the league, including the possible distribution of drugs without prescriptions or labels as well as the alleged practice of drugs being dispensed by trainers instead of physicians.
Part of the driving force behind the DEA’s interest in pursuing such an investigation into the NFL is their widely-held belief that relaxed prescribing practices is one of the leading factors in creating addicts.
An official with the NFL said that many teams had met with federal authorities on Sunday. “Our teams cooperated with the DEA today and we have no information to indicate that irregularities were found,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement.
If you had at one time been prescribed powerful narcotics, such as painkillers like Oxycodone or Vicodin, and find that you can’t stop taking them, even though you desperately want to, help is available. There are many others in the same situation. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today.
By Cheryl Steinberg
In case you haven’t heard, there’s new controversy surrounding last year’s Song of the Summer, “Blurred Lines” co-written by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and Clifford “T.I.” Harris, Jr.
But this time, it isn’t about the lyrics – that some argued were an endorsement of rape culture; no, this time, the co-authors of the hit song are under scrutiny for allegedly copying another hit song in order to strike gold with their catchy tune. The family of legendary R&B singer Marvin Gaye contends that “Blurred Lines” is a rip-off of Gaye’s 1977 track, “Got to Give It Up.”
Apparently, in an attempt to protect their song against claims of being a rip-off, Thicke, Williams, and T.I. have filed a lawsuit.
Both Robin Thicke and producer, Pharrell Williams have given depositions regarding authorship, writing credits, and their creative process when it comes to the song in question – depositions that have been described as “absolutely bizarre.”
Excerpt from Thicke’s deposition:
“Q: Were you present during the creation of ‘Blurred Lines’?
Thicke: I was present. Obviously, I sang it. I had to be there.
Q: When the rhythm track was being created, were you there with Pharrell?
Thicke: To be honest, that’s the only part where — I was high on Vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio. So my recollection is when we made the song, I thought I wanted — I — I wanted to be more involved than I actually was by the time, nine months later, it became a huge hit and I wanted credit. So I started kind of convincing myself that I was a little more part of it than I was and I — because I didn’t want him — I wanted some credit for this big hit. But the reality is, is that Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song.”
After “Blurred Lines” blew up the charts, Thicke had given numerous interviews during which he accepted credit for writing the smash hit as well as openly talking about how Gaye’s music has been a big influence on his music. In fact, he appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show with his young son and talked about how weird it was to be in the midst of a legal battle with the family of a legendary soul singer who “inspires almost half of my music.”
Robin Thicke: Real Drug Problem or Backpedaling to Save His Butt?
Thicke now says that he repeated the supposedly “made-up” origin story surrounding “Blurred Lines” because he says he “thought it would help sell records.”
He goes on to say that he hardly remembers his specific media comments because he “had a drug and alcohol problem for the year” (is that how it works? Just a year, and it goes away?) and that he “didn’t do a sober interview,” referring to the interviews he gave to such outlets as Billboard and even the one to Oprah. Thicke admits he was drunk and taking Norco — “which is like two Vicodin in one pill,” he says.
The R&B singer stated that, “I told my wife the truth. That’s why she left me.” He added that he’s been sober for many months but, toward the end of the deposition, clarified that he’s given up Vicodin but not alcohol.
Are you struggling with alcohol and/or other drugs? Or do you suspect that someone you love is struggling, despite their attempts to cover it up or dismiss it? Well, help is available. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist today. We’re available around the clock to answer your questions.
You’ve probably heard this time and time again: not everyone’s ‘rock bottom’ looks the same. And what that means is, there are some of us who were what are considered ‘functional addicts’ and ‘functional alcoholics’ in our active addiction. We didn’t hit an extreme financial bottom that left us homeless, prostituting, or in jail. That said, we took to Reddit to find out about other people’s hitting rock bottom and how they knew they finally needed help.
Hitting Bottom: How I knew I needed help
Never having money was a major problem.
“I was serving tables in very nice restaurant, I got a W2 which said I made 62K that year (and that was just what I claimed). I had no possessions other that my piece of shit car and my bed and I couldn’t pay my part of the rent which was $200 a month.”
“I had a really good job, a car, place to live. But no money. I started dating sugar daddies to pay for my habit, something I never thought I’d do for drugs.”
For many, it’s the guilt and shame of using
“[T]he shame. I’m detoxing from heroin right now, and I haven’t even been able to look my mother in the eye. She obviously knew something was up, and would ask me all the time, but I just couldn’t tell her until I was ready to get clean. I don’t care if random people on the internet know I stick needles in my arm, but my mom? Hell no. I’m her first kid. It was hard enough telling her that I HAD been doing it, and am trying to get clean.”
“For me, it was the second or third time I had to be hospitalized due to my addiction and seeing the look on my mother’s face – it wasn’t concern or worry, it had become disappointment and annoyance – that had me start to realize that I really had a problem.”
Having to keep using even though we didn’t even want to anymore is another bottom for many of us. The whole ‘being sick and tired of being sick and tired’ affected many of us in our active addiction and was the breaking point that had us get help.
“[W]hen I had to use constantly in order to not get sick. [W]hen I wasn’t even getting “high” anymore. when it quit being fun.”
“When I changed from ‘I want [heroin] so I can get stoned,’ to ‘I need [heroin] so I can function’ was the breaking point.”
For others, seeing friends and loved ones hurting themselves was what made them realize that they needed to get help.
“All my friends started dying or going to jail.”
“Just saw a good friend I hadn’t seen in years (sober years) walking down the road. Pulled over, found out he had been homeless for 3 yrs. Shocked me up real good.”
“My girlfriend committed suicide and I was unsuccessful at killing myself.”
Many of us felt guilt and shame for stealing from people who legitimately needed meds.
“When I would get excited about going to a house that I had never been to, so that I could raid their medicine cabinets. When my cancer ridden Mom ran out of Percocet because I took them all and she had to wait for her rx to get refilled and she was in pain. She never knew it was my fault. When I actually contemplated having sex with a guy just to get the pills that I wanted because I couldn’t afford them. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
“[I] went with my then-boyfriend to “visit” his friend with Multiple Sclerosis. He and I talked to his friend for a while then my boyfriend pretended to go to the bathroom to look for some pharmaceuticals his friend might have. Got away with taking his friend’s Vicodin. I felt like such a sh*t head.”
And there were plenty of us that had almost died in our active addiction, or actually did die (“coded”) and were brought back to life.
“[E]xperiencing my second alcohol related seizure. The first being when I tried to quit cold turkey without medical detox. Yay! The second seizure landed me in ICU for three days. When I was nearing time to be released a Dr. came in and advised me that I really needed to go into inpatient rehab. I told him that I couldn’t afford it and he shrugged and walked out. A short while later another Dr. came in and tried to impress how much I needed to get into rehab and I told her the same thing. She flat out told me, ‘then don’t stop drinking – if you stop drinking you will die.’ So yeah, it’s somewhere around that time you realize you’re not a rock star and this ain’t partying.”
If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction or you are concerned for a loved one, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and share with you resources. You are not alone and help is available. It’s not too late to turn your life around for the better.
You might recall the legal action taken by several U.S. states on tobacco companies that occurred about 20 years ago. Much like that, two California counties, Santa Clara and Orange, are suing painkiller manufacturing companies on the basis that they make misleading and false claims about the safety of their products, which are consumed by millions of Americans each year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that opioid painkillers, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, were to be blamed for 16,651 deaths in 2010, a number that is more than twice the number of deaths that could be attributed to cocaine and heroin combined.
The two California counties have filed a lawsuit against five drug companies: Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, Actavis, Endo Health Solutions Inc., and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ Cephalon Inc. – accusing them of waging an intentionally deceptive campaign in order to boost the sales of their powerful painkillers – the same ones that currently the driving force behind our booming prescription narcotic addiction problem.
The suit, filed Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court, alleges false advertising, unfair competition and creating a public nuisance. The lawsuit goes on to say that the ever-increasing drug overdose cases serve only to burden already-busy hospital emergency rooms as well as add to rising medical costs.
Though filed by two specific counties, the lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the entire state of California; it intends to halt the opiate painkiller marketing campaigns in the state as well as to collect an unspecified amount for compensation due to alleged damage to the public’s health and California citizens.
In the News: Two California Counties Sue Over Painkiller Marketing
Besides the lawsuit against the tobacco industry, there seems to be another precedent to this latest litigious action.
Previously, Purdue, which manufactures OxyContin and is one of the 5 Big Pharma companies named in this latest suit, and three of its former executives paid $634 million to settle criminal and civil charges. The charges were filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and claimed that Purdue misled regulators, doctors, and patients regarding their product’s potential for abuse and addiction.
Despite its claims that it has since put certain practices into place in order to prevent misinformation and mishandling of Oxycontin, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said that Purdue continues to mislead the public despite the previous settlement.
“That didn’t change anything and that’s why this lawsuit can’t just be about money. We aren’t just looking to tax them on their profits. We are looking for them to change their behavior and to start telling the truth,” Rackauckas said in an interview Thursday.
The Wednesday lawsuit alleges that the named companies sought to expand narcotic painkiller sales back in the 1990s by promoting their use for more than serious pain-related cases such as those involving cancer patients and other terminally ill patients. It also claims that upwards of 254 million prescriptions for opiate-based drugs were filled in 2010 to treat a wide-range of common conditions, such as arthritis, back pain and headaches.
“Opioids — once a niche drug — are now the most prescribed class of drugs — more than blood pressure, cholesterol or anxiety drugs,” the lawsuit states. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
WEST PALM BEACH – Two Florida pill mill doctors were sentenced Friday for their part in irresponsibly handing out thousands of prescriptions for narcotic painkillers, such as oxycodone (Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and Roxicodone (“Roxy”), while employed in the so-called “pill mill” clinics owned and operated by the now infamous Wellington twins Chris and Jeff George.
Dr. Cynthia Cadet, 43, received a 78-month sentence, which translates to about 6 ½ years and Dr. Joseph Castronuovo, 74, was given an 18-month sentence. However, both Florida pill mill doctors have sworn to appeal their convictions and sentences. Both also asked to remain free while their appeals are pending.
Florida Pill Mill Doctors: Overdose Deaths
This isn’t the first time that Cadet and Castronuovo faced a judge: eight months, both of these Florida pill mill doctors were cleared of causing the opiate overdose deaths of eight patients in all. The two were in federal court in order to be sentenced on money laundering charges for their role in the extensive pill mill operation in the South Florida region.
Drs. Cynthia Cadet and Joseph Castronuovo were originally facing the possibility of stiff sentences of as much as 10 years a piece for their participation in the lucrative pain clinic enterprise masterminded by twins Chris and Jeff George. The Florida pill mill doctors’ attorneys argued that neither of their clients should be sent to prison for their work at the clinics – that were obviously designed to people addicted to opiates and other prescription pills, such as Xanax, desperate for a fix.
Florida Pill Mill Doctors Beg for Mercy
According to his attorney Thomas Sclafani, who wrote in memorandum to U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra, Castronuovo, being of advanced age and suffering with several health problems, wouldn’t survive long in prison. Sclafani urged for leniency, citing his client’s long career as a healer and his service to the community when he worked at St. Mary’s Medical Center in the 1970s, and suggested that Castronuovo be sentenced to house arrest.
Michael Weinstein, the attorney for Cadet, 43, the former emergency room physician in Broward County turned pill mill doctor, said that his client should be given probation.
Both attorneys wrote that the other Florida pill mill doctors who worked for the Georges admitted to knowing that their employers were drug dealers. According to their attorneys, both Cadet and Castronuovo say they believed they were professionally and ethically treating their patients, who appeared to have legitimate health issues. In fact – they pointed out – the two were the only ones among nearly three dozen of Florida pill mill doctors at the clinics in Palm Beach and Broward counties who rejected plea deals at the time of their indictment and chose to go to trial, believing in their own innocence.
Prosecutors: Florida Pill Mill Doctors Deserve Punishment
Prosecutors for the case wrote, “At trial, the government presented approximately seventy witnesses and over 400 exhibits. The evidence established that both defendants prescribed and dispensed controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and other than for a legitimate medical purpose.”
The prosecutors pointed out that both of the Florida pill mill doctors Cadet and Castronuovo knew what they were doing was illegal. They said that the two should be punished just like the 10 or so other pill mill doctors who pleaded guilty and received prison sentences.
Witnesses at trial testified that the clinic where Cadet worked was so successful that money literally spilled out of garbage bags. And neighbors of the clinics complained about the patients shooting up in clinic parking lots.
The prosecutors also point to the two Florida pill mill doctors’ guilt as evidenced in their actions while employed by the Georges. For instance, during the mere 15 months Cadet worked at the clinic American Pain, she wrote prescriptions for 2.5 million oxycodone pills and was paid $1.5 million. And Castronuovo, who worked for nine months at the twins’ clinic Executive Pain, made $160,000 and gave out prescriptions for 750,000 pills, prosecutors said.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.