Drug cited in ex-NFL players' suit can have serious side effects

The NFL has had little to say about the lawsuit filed Tuesday by hundreds of former players who claim teams illegally supplied them with powerful narcotics to keep them on the field despite injuries.

It turns out one of those drugs has dangerous side effects.

Former lineman Jeremy Newberry says the drug Toradol was used extensively in NFL locker rooms. CBS News

Former lineman Jeremy Newberry is one of the plaintiffs and says the prescription drug Toradol was used extensively in NFL locker rooms. He retired in 2009.

"It's almost like a cattle call. You have 20, 25 guys with their pants down, waiting in line for the doctor who has a hundred syringes lined up. They are walking through sticking you one at a time as they walk in and out," he said.

Toradol, also known as Ketorolac, is a highly potent anti-inflammatory drug approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 1989 for use after surgery to relieve pain. Players say it's become popular in NFL locker rooms in the last decade.

Dr. Dennis Cardone is the chief of primary care sports medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center.

"Toradol when taken will decrease the feeling of pain players will experience from an acute injury or from maybe a hit on the football field," he said.

The lawsuit alleges medical staff in the NFL "intentional hid the dangers" of Toradol from players. Those dangers were on the league's radar in 2012 when a task force of NFL doctors made specific recommendations about Toradol's use.

"It should not be used ... as a means of reducing anticipated pain either during or after a game or practice," the task force said. It warned of potential side effects that included internal bleeding after collisions and damaged kidneys.

Newberry says he has kidney damage.

"If my kidneys get any worse, I'll be on dialysis," Newberry said. "If they get a lot worse I'll be looking for a kidney transplant."

CBS News asked the NFL about Toradol on Wednesday. It would not comment.

The only word from the league came from the head of the NFL Physicians Society, who said: "I am surprised by this lawsuit, but as doctors we put our players first."

  • Jim Axelrod
    Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the chief investigative correspondent and senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.