Florida HBPA Announces Gold Level Sponsorship

The Florida Horsemen's Protective and Benevolent Association (HBPA), in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of equine health and its impact on performance, has partnered with Merial, the maker of GASTROGARD (omeprazole) Paste, the first and only equine gastric ulcer medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Florida HBPA and Merial program includes the first-ever gold level sponsorship by an animal health company and includes a trackside education effort as well as free diagnostic screening.

"This is a first-of-its-kind sponsorship for the Florida HBPA and signifies a new trend by a progressive animal health company toward the promotion of horse health," said Scott Savin, president, FHBPA. "The HBPA is pleased to provide on-site education to owners and trainers about the importance of optimal horse health on performance, and specifically the prevalence of ulcers in racehorses. As horse-lovers, healthcare is a top priority in the racehorse community."

The Merial sponsorship is unprecedented in its range. In addition to including trackside signage and television commercials, Merial and Florida HBPA have expanded the general marketing program to include animal healthcare education and an opportunity to have horses that race at Gulfstream clinically examined for equine gastric ulcers. The Florida HBPA and Merial free endoscopic evaluation at Gulfstream Park will be held Feb. 10, 11 and 12. The only definitive tool for diagnosing ulcers is the endoscope, a device that uses a small camera to allow veterinarians to visualize the lining of the stomach.

Merial's presence at Gulfstream bolsters its already strong commitment to animal health nationwide. "The racing community, which invests so much valuable time and energy into its horses, is becoming more aware of the devastating effects ulcers can have on the overall health and disposition of horses," explains Graham Lumsden, BVM&S, Dip.M., equine director, global marketing, Merial. "Animal healthcare is a joint effort among the trainer, owner and veterinarian. Merial is pleased to be a part of each winning team."

Historically, Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) has been treated with a variety of products, but no other compound currently in use, including H2 blockers like cimetidine and ranitidine, has been proven effective in well-controlled studies or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of equine gastric ulcers. GASTROGARD is the first and only product proven to heal and prevent recurrence of ulcers in horses.

In clinical field studies, GASTROGARD Paste was shown to heal or greatly improve ulcers in up to 99 percent of horses when treated for a 28-day period, with no side effects. The product has been proven to prevent the recurrence of ulcers and can be administered while the horse is still in training. The product was tested at more than 15 sites involving more than 300 horses of nine different breeds.

To support its promotional efforts at Gulfstream, Merial is using the Gulfstream Park JUMBOTRON• and the Gulfstream Racing Network as a venue for its commercials. The 60-second spots heighten the awareness of ulcers, which afflict as many as 90 percent of racehorses nationally. A recent study of 565 horses at major racetracks nationwide confirms this prevalence. Merial will have an opportunity to distribute literature to the trainers on backstretch and members of Turf Club. GASTROGARD advertisements will also run in the Florida HBPA newsletters.

The Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, founded in 1970, serves as the liaison between racetracks and thoroughbred owners and trainers. Charged with representing the interests of its members by negotiating contracts with each South Florida racetrack, the Florida HBPA is funded by voluntary contributions of owner members.

Merial is the world's leading animal-health company dedicated to the research, development, manufacture and delivery of innovative pharmaceuticals and vaccines for use by veterinarians, food-animal producers and pet owners to improve the health, well-being and performance of all animal species. The company is also market leader in the development and production of poultry breeding stock. With its worldwide headquarters in London, Merial employs around 6,500 dedicated people, and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Total 1998 sales were US$1.76 billion. Merial is jointly owned by Merck and Co. Inc. and Aventis S.A. For more information on GASTROGARD and Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome, please visit the web sites http://www.gastrogard.com and http://www.egus.org , or call 877/GASTROGARD.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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