DURHAM, N.C., Dec. 8 Slate Pharmaceuticals -- A pharmaceutical company CEO is criticizing the PGA Tour's one year suspension, under its "Anti-Doping" policy, of golfer Doug Barron, the 40-year-old, 14-year PGA Tour veteran from Memphis, Tennessee, who last month became the first and only player in professional golf to be suspended for doping.
"Suspending Doug Barron for doping is dopey," says Robert S. Whitehead, President & CEO of Slate Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of Durham, North Carolina, the company that markets TestopelŪ, the only FDA-approved long-acting testosterone replacement therapy product.
"The PGA Tour is creating the totally erroneous impression that Doug Barron is to golf what Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire are to baseball," said Whitehead. "It's irresponsible."
"I have examined the PGA Tour's claims and statements put forth in defending their action against Doug Barron," said Whitehead, "and when it comes to the issue of low testosterone and how to properly evaluate it, the PGA Tour has not made a sufficiently diligent effort to achieve a medically sound decision."
"This area of medicine is complex," said the pharmaceutical company CEO. "Physicians recognized as leading experts in this field habitually point out that many physicians who do not specialize in testosterone frequently render poor advice as a result of not being current with scientific findings. The PGA Tour would have been better served by seeking out the opinion of at least one physician recognized as a leading expert in this specialized area of medicine."
"The reason I am speaking out on this matter," said CEO Whitehead, "is that by its ill-advised action the PGA Tour has made an unfortunate contribution to medical ignorance and has harmed efforts to improve men's health. There are many misconceptions about testosterone replacement therapy that have no scientific basis. Perpetuating these misconceptions keeps men who might need treatment - and the FDA estimates there are at least 13 million in the USA - from seeking the medical care that they need."
On November 2nd the PGA Tour issued a news release stating: "Doug Barron has violated the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Policy's ban on the use of performance enhancing substances and has been suspended for one year." They refused a request from Barron's attorneys to add: "Doug Barron disagrees with the PGA Tour's conclusion that he violated their Anti-Doping policy and the resulting sanction. All of the medications that were taken by Doug Barron were prescribed by his Medical Doctors for diagnosed medical conditions."
The two medications involved are a beta blocker that Barron was prescribed in 1987 when he was diagnosed at age 18 with mitral valve prolapse and testosterone that he was prescribed in 2005 following his diagnosis of hypogonadism, having lower than normal testosterone levels, a condition commonly referred to as Low T.
"At Doug Barron's age (40)," explained Whitehead, "a man's odds of suffering from low testosterone levels which can and should be treated are about one in ten and can be double that if certain other medical problems are also present. Men find it difficult to talk about this condition. Doug Barron deserves credit, not rebuke, for openly discussing his medical disability."
"As an avid golfer and enthusiastic golf fan," said Whitehead, "I hope the PGA Tour swiftly reverses this decision which is lacking in factual merit and which is unfairly damaging the reputation and career of this young professional golfer."
Barron has filed a lawsuit, asking that a jury hear his case and award him damages on the grounds that the PGA Tour has dishonestly labeled him as a doper and a cheater for doing nothing more than "taking medications prescribed for him by his medical doctors for perfectly normal and legitimate medical reasons." His suit charges that the PGA Tour has made knowingly false, misleading and defamatory statements about him "with reckless disregard for the entire truth of the subject matter."
Pointing out that a judge has already signaled that Barron would likely be held blameless regarding his use of a beta blocker for treating his mitral valve prolapse, Whitehead added that, "he should also have an easy case demonstrating to a jury that his use of testosterone replacement therapy for his hypogonadism (Low T) is in no way a performance enhancement abuse."
Whitehead said that, if asked, he would be willing to testify as an expert witness in support of Barron's case against the PGA Tour. He stressed that the company he heads has no relationship with Barron and that Barron uses a different testosterone replacement therapy than his company's product TestopelŪ.
"What I would much rather do," said the pharmaceutical company CEO, "would be to bring the PGA Tour and Doug Barron together with some thought-leading physicians with internationally-recognized expertise in this field and help professional golf construct sound Anti-Doping policies and procedures rooted in scientific fact and understanding."
"Our company would gladly host such an undertaking. I have so informed PGA Tour Commissioner Timothy W. Finchem and I sincerely hope he takes me up on this offer."
SOURCE Slate Pharmaceuticals