American football legend Abby Wambach has told ESPN that she intends to fully divest from a concussion drug company backed by Brett Favre and which is at the center of a concussion drug case. welfare in Mississippi.
Wambach, a World Cup winner and two-time National Soccer Hall of Fame gold medalist, was a member of the sports advisory board for Odyssey Health, a pharmaceutical company that said it was developing a nasal spray designed to treat concussions cerebral. . Odyssey Health’s main investor is Favre.
According to a lawsuit filed by the state of Mississippi, $2.1 million that was supposed to go to welfare recipients was instead directed to Odyssey Health. The company, formerly known as Prevacus, was linked to the fraud case during the first arrests in February 2020, with many details of the case being reported by the nonprofit news organization Mississippi Today.
In an email Thursday, Wambach said it wasn’t until she was contacted by ESPN earlier in the day that she first learned of “troubling information” about Odyssey Health. She said she supported the company as part of a personal effort to lessen the impact of concussion-related injuries.
“Within minutes of learning of this new information, I initiated the process to immediately and completely withdraw from all involvement – financial and otherwise – with Prevacus/Odyssey Health Inc., a process that I have insisted that it will be finished by the end of the day today,” Wambach said.
As of Thursday afternoon, Wambach’s connection to the company had been removed from its website.
Wambach did not respond to interview requests or respond to questions about what her role on the advisory board had involved or what financial stake she had in the company.
“Since I sincerely believed that this company was being transparent about a product that could spare the next generation of athletes the serious consequences of concussions that I suffered as a professional athlete, I am deeply angry, disappointed and saddened by what i learned today.” Wambach wrote.
Others identified on the company’s website as members of its athletic advisory board are former NFL quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Mark Rypien, Chicago Cubs manager David Ross and former NFL coach Steve Mariucci. No one could be reached for comment.
In 2016, Wambach, one of football’s great minds, announced that after his death his brain would be used for concussion research. Two years later, she appeared with Favre, Warner and Prevacus founder Dr. Jacob VanLandingham on the “Today” show to discuss concussions and promote the company.
Favre joined Prevacus in 2014 and as of late 2018, the former Green Bay Packers quarterback was the company’s largest outside investor and shareholder, according to the Mississippi state lawsuit filed in May against nearly three dozen defendants. accused, including Favre and VanLandingham. . Favre previously told Men’s Health magazine that he invested nearly $1 million in Prevacus.
According to the lawsuit, Favre in December 2018 urged VanLandingham to solicit Nancy New, the owner of a Mississippi nonprofit, to use state Department of Human Services funds to invest in Prevacus. VanLandingham made a sales pitch for the action at a Jan. 2, 2019, meeting at Favre’s home, with New and John Davis, then-state human services director, among those in attendance, the lawsuit says.
Over the next 10 months, $2.1 million that had been earmarked for welfare recipients was diverted to the company, “in an effort to secure ‘clinical trial sites’ which will be located in Mississippi,” according to the lawsuit. The money was instead used to buy shares of Prevacus for the people at the center of the scheme, according to the lawsuit.
A written agreement to obtain the welfare funds was part of a “sham” designed to conceal financial benefits from Favre, VanLandingham and others, according to the state. The money came from Mississippi’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a poverty alleviation program.
On February 5, 2021, exactly one year after New, Davis and four others were first arrested in the fraud case, Odyssey announced that it was acquiring the concussion drug from Prevacus.
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