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Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A.
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Team doctors face scrutiny before changes in drug transportation

Anyone can be charged for violating drug laws, even doctors. That may be why the doctors for the National Football League (NFL) felt harassed when the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) came to talk to them in 2011 about their responsibility in medicating patients in the correct manner.

That meeting had a presentation including the responsibilities and obligations of medical providers under the Controlled Substances Act and federal regulations, and it was supposed to be informative. The medical providers at the meeting disagreed, stating that the presentation was a lecture telling them how to do their jobs; one doctor said the man made them feel like criminals.

After the meeting, the doctors continued to treat the athletes and administered painkillers as needed. Four years later, that started to change. Lawsuits involving over 1,800 former NFL athletes claimed teams medicated them improperly during their careers. The lawsuits allege the doctors were negligent.

The DEA agent talked to the providers about the opioid epidemic in particular. One team doctor claimed that the agent was trying to say that the team doctors were like pain-factory doctors who dole out unnecessary medications, and so the message was lost on them.

Traveling with prescription medications in unlicensed facilities or areas outside a state or even in a home state is illegal. If a trainer gives out opioids to players, that's illegal as well. In 2015, the NFL began to use the Visiting Team Medical Liaison Program to stop providers from taking drugs across state lines. Today, it's believed the NFL is following regulations, though it still has lawsuits pending.

In cases like this one, doctors face trouble because of changes in laws or regulations that take place over time. If you're accused of a prescription drug violation, your attorney can help you understand the steps to take to clear your name.

Source: The Washington Post, "The DEA warned NFL doctors about drug laws in 2011. It didn’t go well.," Rick Maese, April 20, 2017

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