ESPN: Concussion Drug Companies Backed by Brett Favre Overstated Product Benefits

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 8, 2022

Former NFL player Brett Favre delivers his speech during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday, Aug.6, 2016, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard)
AP Photo/David Richard

Two drug companies supported by Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre "overstated their NFL connections and exaggerated the known effectiveness of their drugs during efforts to raise money," according to ESPN's Mark Fainaru-Wada.

Prevacus and PresolMD were working on a nasal spray and cream they claimed could be used for concussions. Prevacus also listed a number of notable figures, including NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills as "other contacts" among the "Key Advisory Members and Associates."

An NFL spokesperson confirmed the league office was contacted by Prevacus but that was as deep as the partnership went. The spokesperson denied Sills or Jeff Miller, the executive vice president for health and safety innovation, worked with Prevacus in any advisory capacity.

Jake VanLandingham, who founded the two companies, told Fainaru-Wada he "never told anybody that Allen Sills was an adviser for Prevacus" and said the same applied with Miller. He added the marketing document that listed Sills and Miller was only supposed to convey that Prevacus had contacted the individuals in question.

VanLandingham worked on a pair of studies that showed "progesterone and a related steroid had shown positive results on concussed rats," per Fainaru-Wada.

Using that research, VanLandingham began working on a nasal spray that would theoretically lessen the brain swelling when an athlete suffers a concussion. However, there's nothing to show the studies' findings on concussed rats could be applied to humans.

VanLandingham then sought in July 2019 to launch a cream, PreVPro, that could be used preventatively for concussions. Favre said in one interview that PreVPro would offer "seven hours of anti-inflammatory protection [to the brain]," per Fainaru-Wada.

The experts Fainaru-Wada contacted "expressed even more skepticism about the cream than the nasal spray."

In addition to the allegations casting doubt on the credibility of Prevacus and PresolMD, the companies are ensnared in the wide-ranging welfare fraud scandal in Mississippi.

The Clarion Ledger's Giacomo Bologna and Luke Ramseth reported the companies received $2.15 million from state funds. Mississippi filed a civil suit seeking to get the money back.

Favre is under additional scrutiny after he allegedly worked with former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and others to funnel at least $5 million in welfare funds toward a new volleyball facility for the University of Southern Mississippi.