Armond Armstead reached a settlement Wednesday with the University of Southern California in his lawsuit that blamed the school for a heart attack he suffered playing football for the Trojans four years ago.
Both Armstead, a onetime star for Pleasant Grove High School, and the university withheld the terms of the settlement. But Armstead’s attorney issued a statement that harshly criticized the use of the painkilling drug Toradol. The lawsuit blamed the drug for causing the heart attack that terminated Armstead’s promising career as a defensive lineman.
Armstead suffered his heart attack in the months before what would have been his senior season at USC in 2011. While he blamed it on the Toradol, attorneys for USC attributed the coronary to a congenital problem. Three years after the first heart attack, Armstead suffered a second such episode in 2014 while he was under contract with the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. He retired last July.
In a news release, Armstead’s lawyer, Roger A. Dreyer, said his client believes that Toradol – a widely used painkiller in college and professional sports – “should be more fully and independently evaluated to protect the health and safety of student athletes, especially those athletes who compete at the intercollegiate level.”
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“He believes that these athletes in particular are too often in a vulnerable position, without the resources or information necessary to make informed decisions regarding the use of Toradol, especially in ‘game day’ circumstances where the drug might be used to get a player on the field in spite of an injury, when more conservative medical care might be more appropriate for the long term health of the student athlete,” Dreyer’s statement said.
Dreyer said Armstead also believes “that the use of Toradol has not been adequately researched with respect to possible long-term consequences, especially when administered to student athletes by team doctors repeatedly over the course of a season.”
His client thinks schools “should be required to inform student athletes of the known risks associated with the use of Toradol, including, at a minimum, being provided the warnings and medication guides approved and required for this drug by the FDA,” Dreyer said in the statement.
According to the FDA, Toradol and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkilling drugs can cause internal bleeding and other gastrointestinal problems, as well as an increased risk “of serious cardiovascular thrombotic events” – blood clots – “myocardial infarction, and stroke, which can be fatal.”
“Those risks should be scientifically evaluated in a clinical and controlled setting, not in an environment where team doctors are using the drug where the focus may be on the outcome of a single game rather than on protecting the health and safety of individual players,” Dreyer said. “It is (Armstead’s) hope that above all, the NCAA and all college football programs will adopt a commitment to always put the individual safety of student athletes ahead of the need to win.”
Los Angeles attorney Lou Pappas, who is representing USC, released a statement by the university Wednesday saying, “We have seen the statements issued by Mr. Armstead’s attorney that express Mr. Armstead’s personal opinions. While the university will not comment on the case, USC has always placed the health and safety of its student athletes as its top priority.”
Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.