RMTC Notes Uniform Medication Program Steps

RMTC Notes Uniform Medication Program Steps
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

A review by the board of directors of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium of state-by-state adoption of the Association of Racing Commissioners International's National Uniform Medication Program shows the majority of major racing jurisdictions will have a substantial portion of the program's four principal components in place by year's end. 

At its meeting Oct. 13 at Canterbury Park, the board covered progress on the adoption of the National Uniform Medication Program's medication schedule, third-party Lasix (furosemide) administration, laboratory accreditation, and the multiple medication violations penalty system. Due to regulatory and/or legislative requirements, timing for the adoption process varies, but significant portions of the program will have been adopted in all but five states, the RMTC board believes.

The following is an update provided by the RMTC.

While most state testing labs already have achieved at least ISO accreditation, and additional RMTC accreditation is steadily progressing, the RMTC addressed uniformity of processes and parameters throughout the states by approving a model Request for Proposals for Equine Drug Testing Laboratories.

Dr. Mary Scollay, RMTC board member and equine medical director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, chaired the committee that drafted the document. The model RFP will serve as a tool for racing commissions as they negotiate and enter into contracts with drug testing laboratories. The document provides guidelines for obtaining quality uniform testing nationwide.      

"This model RFP is a clear and logical roadmap for regulators to use when navigating what can be an intimidating lab testing procurement process," said Scollay. "This roadmap is key to ensuring that uniform medication regulation is supported by consistent testing practices in all racing jurisdictions. Consistent lab testing is fundamental to nationwide medication reform."

The RMTC board also approved model rule recommendations regarding medication labeling and compounded medication that will be forwarded to the RCI for consideration. The rules recommended by the RMTC provide guidance to veterinarians, trainers, and track officials regarding requirements for labeling of prescription medication and substances that are acceptable for use in the pari-mutuel environment.   

"The goal of this regulation is not to bar the use of legitimate compounded medication," said RMTC Executive Director Dr. Dionne Benson. "It is crucial, however, that the commissions have the ability to protect the health and welfare of the horse. Controlling, not eliminating, the use of compounded medication is an important step to assist the commissions in that role."   

The RMTC board also responded to concerns raised by horsemen, regulators, and veterinarians regarding a potential interaction between the muscle relaxant methocarbamol and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone. Among the documents reviewed was research by Dr. Mary Robinson of the University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Equine Testing and Racing Laboratory suggesting a potential interference by phenylbutazone on the clearance of methocarbamol. The RMTC will communicate Robinson's findings when they become available. In the interim, veterinarians and trainers are reminded that the possibility of drug interactions with the co-administration of multiple medications must always be taken into consideration when recommending treatment close to racing.  

The RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee updated the board regarding tactical research on the prohibited substances GABA and cobalt. A recommendation from the SAC on a GABA threshold is expected soon. The board declined to act on a cobalt threshold as there was not a consensus recommendation from the SAC. An effort will be made to reconvene the SAC to reach a consensus recommendation once research performed by Dr. George Maylin for the United States Trotting Association is made available for review. That data is expected within 90 days. Additionally, the board was briefed on plans to convene a face-to-face meeting of the full SAC to discuss not only the cobalt threshold but also ways to restructure the committee.   

"We understand that nothing is more important to the industry from a drug and medication policy perspective than solid scientific research and analysis," said RMTC board chairman Alex Waldrop. "Accordingly, steps were taken at our meeting to re-engage all members of the RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee. The RMTC is committed to considering all points of view and to reaching the broadest consensus possible, so long as we do not compromise fundamental scientific integrity."

The RMTC Out of Competition Testing Subcommittee reported to the board concerning potential options for amendments to the current out of competition testing model rule including the addition of specific interstate reciprocity recommendations, model language for out-of-competition testing in stakes nominations, and the scope of testing to be performed. The committee is expected to provide specific recommendations for a national, comprehensive out-of-competition testing at the next scheduled meeting of the board.

The RMTC remains committed to expedited adoption of uniform national medication rules, penalties, and lab testing reforms at the state level, and will continue to pursue that strategy. Recent success in advocating for these reforms in key racing states combined with actions at the board meeting are but the latest examples of the RMTC's progress toward achieving national uniformity.  

The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse, and Arabian racing. The organization works to develop and promote uniform rules, policies and testing standards at the national level; coordinate research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants; and protect the interests of the racing public.

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