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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

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Former USC Football Player Claims Team Drug Caused Heart Attack

A pharmaceutical company named in a lawsuit by a former USC defensive end filed a cross-complaint against USC.

A pharmaceutical company named in a lawsuit by a former USC defensive end filed a cross-complaint against USC on Monday. 

Armond Armstead, a former USC football player, has accused team doctors of giving him painkillers that caused him to have a heart attack and damaged his future in the NFL. SportsPharm Pharmaceuticals Inc. is alleged to

Armstead, 22, played for USC from 2008 to 2010.
Armstead, 22, played for USC from 2008 to 2010.
have supplied the drugs to USC.

SportsPharm asks in the cross-complaint that the damages awarded to Armstead be divided among the defendants. SportsPharm also asks to be compensated by their co-defendants for their attorney's fees.

Other defendants in the lawsuit are Trojan football team physician Dr. James Tibone and another pharmaceutical company, Hospira Inc.

Tim Tessalone, the Sports Information Director of USC, said he has no comment about the case since it is an ongoing investigation.

Armstead filed his lawsuit last August. The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Tibone and other USC doctors required Armstead to take Toradol, a painkiller, without informing him of the potential side effects.

According to Armstead's lawyers, Dr. Tibone gave the football players Toradol "without limitation" and "without his informed consent."

Robert Bale, Armstead's attorney, said that Toradol is to keep injured players playing instead of helping them recuperate. USC attorney Louis Pappas insisted that Toradol is a safe drug.

Bale added that Armstead was given an ultimatum regarding the drug, "if you don't get this shot, you don't play, and if you don't play, you don't get scouted, and if you're not scouted, you don't play in the NFL."

USC Track and Field Asst. Coach Ryan Wilson said Monday that track athletes use similar drugs to relieve pain and keep them at playing speed.  He said that players trust these companies with their athletic careers and in severe cases, their lives. 

"Universities and companies alike have a really strong responsibility to be more careful with what they provide, consumers, athletes, and students," Wilson said.  "Ultimately, if you're following the guidelines of a prescription or non-prescription drug, there shouldn't be any issues.  So if there are issues, I think the responsibility lies on the drug company."

Armstead, 22, played for USC from 2008 to 2010. He was not taken in the draft, but played last season in Canada for the Grey-Cup winning Toronto Argonauts. In January, Armstead signed with the New England Patriots.

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