This is the obituary of Dr Milton Reder who the book “Miracles on Park Avenue” was written about. I never had the pleasure of meeting him but his work changed my life and the lives of many of my patients. There are other articles about this remarkable giant in pain management.
I read the book “Miracles on Park Avenue” after a patient brought it into my office in 1986.
Link to Article in 1984 New York Magazine :
Milton Reder, Doctor, Dies at 92; Treated Pain With Aid of Cocaine
By WOLFGANG SAXON
Published: March 13, 1992
Dr. Milton Reder, an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist whose medical practice in Manhattan spanned nearly 70 years, died on Sunday at his home on the Upper East Side. Dr. Reder, who became known as a doctor for celebrities and for banishing pain with legally bought cocaine, was 92 years old.
Ill for some time, he died of natural causes but was at his Park Avenue practice as recently as Saturday, said his son, Milton A. Reder of Brookline, Mass.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, and raised in New York City, the elder Dr. Reder received his license in 1922 upon graduation from New York University Medical School. In private practice, he also performed plastic and reconstructive surgery but left that field in the 1950’s to focus on the relief of pain. A 10 Percent Solution
For some 50 years Dr. Reder swabbed his patients’ nostrils with a 10 percent cocaine solution to deaden nerves for ailments like severe headaches, back pains or ringing ears. Those who took their pains to him included notables like Hedy Lamarr, Gen. George S. Patton, George Burns and David Brenner.
He was one of 20 Manhattan physicians who in 1987 were asked by state health officials, concerned about cocaine addiction, to substitute nonaddictive painkillers. Most of them did. But Dr. Reder told an interviewer in 1989 that the request had been prompted by “hysteria” and that none of his patients had ever got “high” or had become addicted to cocaine, which he obtained from pharmaceutical companies.
He said he was unconcerned about possible legal action and continued to use cocaine as medicine because, he said, nothing worked like it did to shut out acute pains. Nevertheless, his son said yesterday that Dr. Reder switched to officially endorsed drugs like the local anesthetic Xylocaine about that time.
Dr. Reder is also survived by his wife, the former Violet Donovan; a sister, Sybil Reder of Manhattan; nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
T.G. Higgins/Getty Images
Whitey Ford didn’t know he had been treated with cocaine in an attempt to alleviate the pain in his left shoulder during the 1957 season.
The New York Yankees ace spoke to his friend, Toots Shor, who recommended Dr. Milton Reder. Ford visited the good doctor, received the treatment and reported his shoulder felt better the next day.
It was a short-lived improvement, but Ford eventually recovered enough to finish the season 11-5 with a 2.57 ERA. He started two games in the World Series against the Milwaukee Braves, going 1-1 with a 1.13 ERA.
Ford didn’t know Dr. Reder had treated his patients, who included many celebrities, for pain with a solution of about 13 percent cocaine. Reder used cocaine he had purchased legally from pharmaceutical companies.
Famed attorney Marvin Mitchelson, entertainer and politician Sonny Bono, comedians George Burns and David Brenner and legendary war hero, Gen. George Patton were among Dr. Reder’s patients.
A Park Avenue doctor with a star-studded patient list..Feb. 5, 1989
Dr. Milton Reder, 89 — who has given cocaine treatments to celebrity clients including comedian David Brenner, entertainer Sonny Bono and divorce lawyer Marvin Mitchelson — could face charges ranging from professional misconduct to felony drug possession, said Thomas Coffey, director of the state Department of Health’s Bureau of Controlled Substances.
‘Baloney,’ said the elderly doctor when told of the state investigation that found he was one of two or three doctors defying a New York County Medical Society ruling discounting the effectiveness of cocaine for blocking muscle and skeletal pain by placing it on swabs pressed to a nerve in the nose.
‘We’ll fight it,’ Reder vowed Sunday. ‘They’re interfering with the practice of medicine.’
Reder’s patients pay $25 a visit for him to insert cotton swab doused with a 10 to 15 percent liquid cocaine solution up their nose. The swabs are placed against a central nerve center, the sphenopalatine ganglion, in the rear of the nasal passages and connected to nerves throughout the body.
Coffey said the medical society stood firm in its belief that there was no scientific evidence that the practice, known as Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block, was effective in reducing pain.
The medical society issued its ruling last spring, and about 20 doctors in the New York area were warned to discontinue the treatment, Coffey said.
The society agreed to reevaluate its ruling at Reder’s request, but its view has not changed, he added.
If the medical group upholds its ruling in a decision expected Feb. 15, Reder could be brought up on charges by the state.
‘We’re saying that’s not a legitimate use of cocaine,’ he said. ‘Clearly people are going to get a legal hit of cocaine.
‘We do have evidence that at least for a half dozen people, that is their motivation,’ Coffey said, although he stressed he was not referring to the celebrity clients.
‘People are going to doctors for drugs for purposes of abuse,’ he said.
But Reder insisted, ‘Nobody in 50 years has ever gotten addicted to it. I’m not using it for anything except to get rid of their pain.’
Brenner swears by the treatment.
‘I’ve seen real miracles in that office,’ Brenner told the Daily News Sunday, listing double scoliosis of the spine, a herniated disk, sciatica in both legs and a degenerative disease of the vertebrae among his ailments.
‘I’ve tried everything. There was one guy who would put vitamins and marijuana on your chest. It was a joke. I couldn’t walk 14 years ago. This cured me.’
Brenner said the treatment did not get him high.
‘I used to blow a lot of coke.’ he said. ‘I know what coke can do. I saw it destroy my friendFreddie Prinze. If there was the slightest resemblance to what I used to feel when I was high, I would have walked out.’
Reder said his past patients included Winston Churchill, George Patton and Pablo Picasso.
Mitchelson told the Daily News that Reder was the only doctor able to relieve his ‘cluster headaches.’
Bono told the newspaper he received treatment from Reder in 1968 for acute sciatica ‘almost to the pont of paralysis.’ He said he as able to walk within 20 minutes. ‘I thought it was weird. But it really worked,’ he said.
The former New York Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford said, ‘Toots Shor brought me in there. It must have been the late ’50s or early ’60s. I was still pitching. And I was having trouble with my shoulder. He puts these cotton swabs up your nose. And my shoulder felt better the next day.’