Sports Doc: Game Time Painkiller Not Worth Risk

By ABC News

Jan 4, 2013 4:52pm

MEGAN CHUCHMACH, BRIAN ROSS and RANDY KREIDER report:

In the wake of an ABC News report on the potential danger of college football teams injecting injured players with a powerful painkiller mid-game, a college and professional team doctor in Florida has come forward to say the risks to the health of the athletes far outweigh any potential reward.

Dr. Clifton Page, one of the team doctors for the University of Miami and the Miami Marlins pro baseball team, said that he has stopped using the generic version of the drug Toradol on his student and pro athletes.

“It was an easy decision for us,” Page told ABC News today. “The health of the athlete, I feel, is above anything else. Even above wins and losses.”

Page said that learning the possible adverse effects of Toradol was enough for him, including potential dangers to the heart or kidneys, not to mention the long-term health effects of allowing a player to play injured.

“[The players] were for it. They asked why we can’t do it… But once we give them the reason, they’re usually on board,” he said. “We want the athlete to have a healthy life outside football, so this one injection, during a pre-game, [is] not really that important compared to the rest of life.”

Page said he doesn’t necessarily support an all-out ban on the drug, but he wants to make sure both the colleges and the players are well-educated about the possible dangers of game day painkillers.

Page contacted ABC News following a report broadcast Thursday on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” “World News With Diane Sawyer” and “Nightline” and published on The Blotter.

In the report, former University of Southern California lineman Armond Armstead said that he suffered a heart attack after the 2010 season at age 20 – a season during which he said he was repeatedly shot up with generic Toradol.

FULL INVESTIGATION: Ex-USC Player Says Painkiller Injections Caused Heart Attack

In a lawsuit against the school and the doctor, Dr. James Tibone, Armstead claims the school ignored the stated risks of the drug and never told him about them.

USC declined to comment on Armstead’s claims or the use of Toradol to treat Trojan players, but has asked the court to throw out Armstead’s lawsuit. Tibone said he could not comment due to the lawsuit, but said USC uses the drug “diligently” on “young, healthy people.”

RELATED: Which Top 25 College Football Teams Inject Players With Controversial Painkiller?

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