When news broke yesterday afternoon that mercurial Mets pitcher Oliver Perez was going to have season-ending surgery performed on his right knee at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan it obscured another announcement from the hospital that has been involved with the Mets for the past decade. The hospital has been in the news throughout the 2009 baseball season due to its involvement with the injury prone New York Mets. Doctors at this particular hospital have operated on several members of the ballclub but have also been quite busy with their own research and development initiatives.
Working in conjunction with Dr. David Altchek and the Mets training staff, Dr. Charles Nichols (right) has pioneered a breakthrough drug that was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Nichols' lifelong work in the field of health studies has produced Provasic (RDU-90). Properly administered, this drug will provide a non-surgical remedy for injuries to the elbow and will render Tommy John surgeries obsolete. And, perhaps more impressively, when taken before the initial trauma, this drug can provide greater resistance to any and all ligament and tendon injuries. Sports medicine will never be the same.
Pharmaceutical giant Devlin Macgregor is hoping (and has invested heavily in that hope) that this medication will become as much a part of the routine of athletes at all levels of competition as
Shockingly, the dream of Provasic has turned into a nightmare for the Hospital for Special Surgery, Dr. Nichols, Devlin Macgregor and the New York Mets. Controversial new information has been brought to light by a disgraced Chicago-based vascular surgeon. This doctor claims to have information that shows that new wonder drug RDU-90 is not what Dr. Nichols claims. Promoted as the end of ligament and tendon tears, the drug has been revealed to have potentially lethal side affects, most notably liver damage, and has been shown to be the reason behind the Mets' ruinous 2009 campaign.
Doctors Nichols used his relationship with the Hospital for Special Surgery and their pre-existing relationship with the Mets to round up a 25-man roster of unwitting guinea pigs. The first player to be administered Provasic, without his knowledge, was closer Billy Wagner. The outspoken reliever was given the drug last season when he complained of tightness in his elbow. Shortly thereafter he was ticketed for Tommy John surgery. Nichols and Devlin Macgregor hoped that Wagner's injury was too advanced when the treatment was started to provide an accurate assessment. However, when the surgery was conducted the tissue damage told another story. At this point, or so the whistle-blowing Dr. Kimble of Cook County Hospital would have us believe, the cover-up and unethical activity began. With Devlin Macgregor on the hook for millions over the years and Nichols feeling that his professional reputation was on the line, the drug was pushed through FDA trials with doctored results. In order to keep up appearances, RDU-90 continued to be administered to Mets players throughout the offseason and through Spring Training. The result is that Mets have placed 19 players and counting on the disabled list during the 2009 season.
Things came to a head when rookie pitcher Jonathan Niese tore his hamstring off the bone while executing a warm-up pitch a few feet away from coaches and trainers in early August. One of the last remaining healthy players on the roster, All-Star third baseman David Wright began asking some questions after the Niese injury. He placed a call to a family friend who in turn reached out to Dr. Kimble, then embroiled in legal troubles involving the death of his wife. Kimble seized the opportunity for distraction and looked into the situation with the tenacity of someone with nothing to lose. When he saw the third baseman felled by a fastball to the head in a home game against the Giants, Kimble knew that Wright had been on to something.
The sad denouement to this story is heartbreaking but seems fairly obvious in hindsight. The only party to benefit from the disastrous 2009 Mets season, aside from the rest of the NL East, was the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. With each new injury they had their profile raised even higher and scored more free publicity. It is clear that the hospital had much to gain by making the balllplayers more susceptible to injury. Combined with the greed of the pharmaceutical giant and lax FDA oversight, Provasic was able to take down an entire ballclub. Be warned, Provasic is not safe.