Lobbying for Proposed National Drug Policy Continues

Three months after national regulators' associations approved model rules for a proposed national medication policy, the task of lobbying jurisdictions to adopt them continues.

The Association of Racing Commissioners International and the North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators' Association approved the model rules April 3 during a joint convention in New Orleans. The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium policy in part calls for voluntary use of Salix on race days and use of one of three non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs no later than 24 hours before a race.

Regulators met to review the proposal in Tucson, Ariz., last December, and then offered input that was included before the model rules were drawn up.

"We've moved into a different phase with (the policy)," said Dr. Scot Waterman, executive director of the consortium. "We're obviously working on getting model rules adopted state by state, which is a lengthy process. Every state is different in terms of public comment periods, hearings, and meetings."

Waterman said the consortium met in May, and plans to meet again in September. Among the issues on the table are backstretch security, pharmaceutical compounding, gleaning "intelligence" from individuals on the backstretch, and acquiring substance samples for analysis.

"All of them are sort of works in progress," Waterman said.

The most resistance to changes in medication policy has come from Kentucky, where use of multiple therapeutic drugs is permitted on race day. Some horsemen and veterinarians at public hearings last year spoke in favor of maintaining the current medication regulations in the state, but there has been no public opposition or even discussion this year.

Also last year, Kentucky Racing Commission chairman Frank Shoop said he would push for the Kentucky drug rules to mirror those suggested by the national consortium. The racing commission was abolished earlier this year, and its replacement, the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, has yet to address the topic of raceday medication.

Other jurisdictions, such as those in the Mid-Atlantic region, already have rules similar to those in the proposed national policy.

About the Author

Tom LaMarra

Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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