Medication Policy Takes Somewhat Different Approach

The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) has adopted a position on medication and drug testing that states any changes in policies in each jurisdiction should be enacted only after there is scientific evidence that specific therapeutic drugs shouldn’t be used in racehorses.

The National HBPA supports efforts by the national Racing Medication and Testing Consortium to create a uniform policy for the country. However, the consortium has taken a somewhat different position in that it believes the industry must first scientifically prove drugs should be used in horses before their use is permitted.

In effect, the National HBPA has taken a stand that therapeutic medication policies should be left alone until there is proof specific therapeutic drugs threaten the health and welfare of racehorses. One industry official said the position could be a big fly in the ointment for a uniform drug policy.

Thus far, only Salix, the bleeder medication formerly known as Lasix, has been approved by the consortium for use on race day. The adjunct bleeder medications currently used in the Mid-Atlantic region will be looked at, as will non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used on race day in Kentucky.

The National HBPA and its more than 30 affiliates approved the position during a Feb. 4 board of directors meeting in New Orleans, La., after a brief presentation by Florida HBPA executive director Kent Stirling, who chairs the National HBPA Medication Committee. The organizations have agreed to support “all industry-wide efforts aimed at creating medication and testing policies...that are uniform and scientifically based.”

As for proposed changes in therapeutic medication statutes, the National HBPA believes any changes for any jurisdiction “must be supported by a preponderance of peer-reviewed published scientific research.” It also states a change in medication policy “will be based on published peer-reviewed scientific research and will be appropriate to the specific area of concern.”

The National HBPA and its affiliates will provide assistance in funding for research related to medication and testing matters. They also believe, where required,  testing policies for therapeutic medication be based on blood threshold levels linked to scientific evidence.

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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