Thoroughbred Owners Group: Salix Effective in Treating EIPH

Thoroughbred Owners Group: Salix Effective in Treating EIPH

A group of researchers and the Thoroughbred Owners of California issued a joint statement supporting use of the anti-bleeding drug furosemide, or Salix.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

A group of scientists met with representatives of the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) Jan. 18 to discuss exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging (EIPH) and later issued a joint statement supporting use of the anti-bleeding drug furosemide.

The TOC issued the statement via a Jan. 27 press release. The meeting wasn't publicized ahead of time and was invitation-only, according to the TOC.

The TOC, like some other horsemen's groups in North America, believes the use of race-day furosemide, also called Salix or Lasix, shouldn't be banned. California later this year will host the Breeders' World Championships, at which race-day Salix is scheduled to be banned in all races.

Breeders' Cup has given no public indication it plans to reverse its planned policy. During the 2012 World Championships at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Salix was banned in 2-year-old stakes races only.

The TOC said the Jan. 18 event was co-chaired by Pegasus Training and Equine Rehabilitation Center founder and TOC board member Mark Dedomenico, MD, and Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, FRCVS, PhD, DSc, Dipl. ACVS, Dipl. ECVS, of Colorado State University. Travel expenses for all participants were paid for by Dedomenico, a heart surgeon and staunch Salix advocate.

The panelists, according to the TOC, were:

  • Dedomenico;
  • Samantha Brooks, PhD, of Cornell University;
  • Gordon Cohen, MD, PhD, MBA, of the University of California, San Francisco;
  • McIlwraith; David Frisbie, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS; Chris Kawcak, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS; and Paul Morley, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, of Colorado State University;
  • Alan Guthrie, BVSc, MedVet , PhD, of University of Pretoria, South Africa;
  • Kenneth Hinchcliff, BVSc, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, of the University of Melbourne, Australia; and
  • Ed Robinson, BVet Med, PhD, MRCVS, and Alice Stack, MVB, Dipl. ACVIM, of Michigan State University.

The group's consensus statement is as follows: "Exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage is a consequence of the high pulmonary vascular pressures achieved by elite athlete horses during strenuous exercise. A similar condition occurs in racing Greyhounds and has been reported in some elite human athletes. In all of these situations, the heart is approaching its maximal functional capacity.

"EIPH has a detrimental effect on performance in Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds. The only treatment that has been shown to prevent the occurrence and decrease severity of EIPH in Thoroughbred racehorses is furosemide. The result of furosemide administration is a decrease in pulmonary vascular pressures.

"On average, horses administered furosemide have better performance. This could be attributable to the reduction in EIPH or to other factors. Horses administered furosemide on a routine basis have not been recognized to experience detrimental effects. Furosemide does not mask detection or other agents when modern analytical methods are used."

The Jockey Club, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and other groups have pushed for a ban on race-day Salix use. These groups believe the results of racing Salix-free horses, such as 2-year-olds, need to be carefully evaluated.

The TOC meeting included discussion about the status of knowledge and research into EIPH, racetrack surface injuries, traumatic joint injury including catastrophic injuries, blood bio-markers that could signal impending injuries, and the use of platelet rich plasma and stem cells in treating equine injuries, according to TOC. The TOC said the group also "identified several key areas for future research, including cardiac and vascular physiology contributing to EIPH in the United States and abroad, pharmacological agents and their efficacy, the potential role of genetics, and the effects of EIPH on well-being."

Originally published on

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