Friday, May 08, 2009

The Seven Million Dollar Erectile Dysfunction

Beach residents will remember Los Angeles Dodger superstar Manny Ramirez. He spent much of the winter on Pensacola Beach, as we noted three months ago, reportedly taking "batting practice" at the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze.

Seriously. "Batting practice."

We remain highly skeptical of the Andrews Institute. It looks to us like one of those transparent hospital marketing strategies you see popping up all over the country -- a "re-branding" business strategy using some purportedly 'famous- doctor's- name- from- somewhere- else' coupled with the high fallutin' word "institute." Travel anywhere and you'll come across them.

Why would a supposedly non-profit hospital need to "brand" and "market" its services? Well, so that it can perform the desperately-needed public service of preparing filthy rich couch-potatoes for outer space vacations, or maybe to justify hiking the hospital bills on desperately sick ordinary local residents -- whichever occurs first.

Now, just a few weeks after leaving the beach, 'Meltdown Manny' has been suspended by Major League Baseball for taking a banned substance prescribed by an unnamed doctor. Since the Pensacola News Journal totally missed the local connection, we'll link to the Boston Globe version of the story. Besides, a lot of Red Sox fans have crocodile tears running down their cheeks right now, so the Boston media are all over this one.
Ramírez said in a prepared statement that the substance was not a steroid but a medication his doctor prescribed for an unspecified personal health issue.
The Globe reports Ramirez took "human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a female fertility drug that steroid users sometimes ingest to regulate their natural testosterone levels."

Rumors are rife that Ramirez took the drug to treat erectile dysfunction. That could make sense if Manny, as also rumored widely, spent most of his free time on Pensacola Beach socializing with scantily dressed women. A couple of months screwing your head off on Pensacola Beach can give ED to almost any man.

As the other Boston newspaper reports --
HCG - when used as a fertility medication for females - triggers ovulation.

For males, HCG is injected for testosterone replacement therapy by inciting leydig cells located in the testicles to create testosterone. The drug can be utilized to mask and reverse the adverse effects steroids have on the body, including decreases in testosterone production and testicular size.

And that's where things could get, well, sticky for the Andrews Institute brand:
[I]t would be unusual for a physician to prescribe HCG to treat erectile dysfunction, according to William McCloskey, a professor of pharmacy practice at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. In the days before Viagra, Cialis, and similar drugs reached the market, HCG was used to treat erectile dysfunction, but its use has greatly diminished because of the new products, McCloskey said.
In other words, HCG is soooo yesterday. If some Baptist/Andrews Institute doctor prescribed it for Ramirez' ED condition, he'd better have a darn good medical reason. The suspension for 50 games will cost Manny "nearly $7.7 million of his $25 million salary."

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