FEI NSAID Congress Convenes in Switzerland

The future of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) use in international equestrian competitions is currently under open debate in an unprecedented two-day congress hosted by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

This "long-awaited" event on Aug. 16 and 17 provides a forum for an organized and scientifically informed debate on this "complicated and, at times, contentious subject," according to FEI President HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein.

Since early this morning in Europe, top researchers from across the globe have been presenting the latest findings on NSAIDs and their effects in horses. "Since 1994, when the FEI stopped the use of NSAIDs in competition, much scientific knowledge has emerged, and it is time for us to review the effect that knowledge might have on our existing approach," Haya said in her foreword address.

The need for such a debate developed following the 2009 FEI decision during its General Assembly in Copenhagen to allow the use of three NSAIDs (phenylbutazone, flunixin meglumine, and salicylic acid) in competition. Although the decision was suspended, the FEI intends to readdress the issue at the 2010 General Assembly in Chinese Taipei in November.

The current congress is intended to prepare national federations for the upcoming vote in November, according to the FEI website. No votes are to take place at the congress itself.

Leading the pro-NSAIDs debate and question session on Tuesday are Tim Ober, DVM, U.S. Equestrian Federation team veterinarian, and Mike Gallagher, president of the Canadian Equestrian Federation. The opponent table will be led by Christian Paillot, vice-president of the French Equestrian Federation, and Peter Kallings, DVM, PhD, Director of Research at the Swedish-Norwegian Foundation for Equine Research.

"The question of in-competition use of NSAIDs goes to the heart of equine welfare, and its resolution can only be achieved through understanding the issues," Haya said. "It is the duty of the FEI to establish best practices based on scientific evidence and thorough investigation of all perspectives."

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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