By Carmen Roxanna (Hattiesburg, MS) – In another episode of “where did all the welfare money go”, Brett Favre is accused of successfully lobbying Mississippi state officials to grant $2.1 million in federal welfare money intended to help poor families into a nasal spray designed to quickly treat brain injuries from concussions. As a major investor in the experimental drug company, Favre has promoted the product on podcasts, radio interviews and national television, including NBC. Favre joined forces with a Florida neuroscientist four years ago to promote the nasal spray, although experts say there is no evidence the product does anything to treat concussions in humans, according to a review of claims by the company.
Experts in neuroscience and drug development say its promise to conduct human trials of the drug in Mississippi appears unlikely to ever be fulfilled. In a statement made to NBC, New Jersey-based pharmaceutical financial analyst David Maris stated, “You’re better off buying a lottery ticket…It’s destined to be a zero.” Based on public filings, Odyssey Health, the publicly traded company that now controls the experimental drug, has less than $1 million on hand, according to Maris. The analyst also said it could take $100 million to conduct the requisite clinical trials, but based on his review of public filings, he believes it’s doubtful that the drug called “PRV-002” will ever reach that stage. So far, it has only passed a Phase 1 study in Australia designed to make sure it isn’t harmful.
Favre, who is currently being sued by the state of Mississippi, remains adamant that he did not know the money he was seeking from the Mississippi Department of Human Services—the state welfare agency—was welfare money. As previously reported, Favre was paid $1.1 million in welfare funds and has also helped to secure $5 million to build a volleyball complex at a state university where his daughter played on the team. Six people have been charged in the massive fraud scheme, including the former director of the state welfare agency, who is cooperating with the FBI and federal prosecutors. Five of the six have pleaded guilty, with the sixth person being referred to a program that offers the opportunity to avoid criminal prosecution. Favre has not been charged, and does not seem to be a subject of the investigation.
According to NBC News, the Florida neuroscientist who developed the drug, Jake VanLandingham, claims he had no clue the Mississippi state funds received by the company came from federal welfare money under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, program known as TANF. Mississippi’s state auditor, Shad White, uncovered the misuse of funds in a 2020 audit.