A former Division I football player alleges in a lawsuit against his alma mater that school personnel injected him repeatedly with a generic version of the potent painkiller Toradol without informing him of the potential side effects:
Controversy surrounding the drug has grown this year following claims by former USC lineman Armond Armstead that he suffered a heart attack after the 2010 season, at age 20, following shots of generic Toradol administered over the course of the season by the team doctor and USC personnel.
“I thought, you know, can’t be me, you know? This doesn’t happen to kids like me,” Armstead told ABC News.
The manufacturers’ warning label for generic Toradol (ketorolac tromethamine) says the drug is not intended for prolonged periods or for chronic pain and cites gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney failure as possible side effects of the drug.
In addition, like other drugs in its class, the generic Toradol label warns “may cause an increased risk of serious cardiovascular thrombotic events, myocardial infarction (heart attack), and stroke, which can be fatal.”
“This risk may increase with duration of use,” the so-called black box warning reads.
In a lawsuit against the school and the doctor, Dr. James Tibone, Armstead claims the school ignored the stated risks of the drug and never told him about them.
“He was a race horse, a prize race horse that needed to be on that field no matter what,” said Armstead’s mother Christa. “Whether that was a risk to him or not.”
Armstead says he and many other USC players would receive injections of what was known only as “the shot” in a specific training room before big games and again at half-time.
“No discussion, just go in. He would give the shot and I would be on my way,” Armstead told ABC News.
Armstead said the shot made him feel “super human” despite severe ankle, and later shoulder pain, and that without it, he never could have played in big USC games against Notre Dame and UCLA.
“You can’t feel any pain, you just feel amazing,” the former star player said.
USC declined to comment on Armstead’s claims, or the use of Toradol to treat Trojan players.
An ABC News crew and reporter were ordered off the practice field when they tried to question USC coach Lane Kiffin about the use of the painkiller.
Later at a news conference promoting the Sun Bowl, where USC was defeated earlier this week, Kiffin said he had no idea when or if Toradol was being used on his players, or about its risks.
“Well, if that was the case then, yeah, I did not know that until you told me,” Kiffin said. “You educated me, thank you.” [empashis mine]
A NCAA spokespeson told ABC News that the college-sports governing body “has no such requirement to regulate or even track the use of painkillers.” The article’s authors point out that the NFL, NHL, and NBA permit the use of Toradol but have stringent oversight requirements, whereas a New York Times piece April 2012 portrays MLB’s apparent lack of oversight of the powerful drug.