The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has lowered the testing threshold level for phenylbutazone, a commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, but has kept the administration time at 24 hours prior to a race.
The RMTC, at a meeting in Lexington, April 12, also announced the launch of a public database on rulings that can be accessed at www.rmtcnet.com.
The testing threshold for phenylbutazone has gone from five micrograms per milliliter to two. Some regulatory veterinarians have said NSAIDs can interfere with pre-race examinations.
“This action was taken in response to concerns expressed by the regulatory veterinary community regarding the effects of NSAID administration on pre-race examinations,” Dr. Rick Arthur, chair of the RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee and equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, said in a statement. “The committee felt that the regulatory veterinarians’ concerns that NSAID levels may compromise pre-race examinations were justified. This adjustment in permitted phenylbutazone level is measured and appropriate.”
The Scientific Advisory Committee will continue to research whether further restrictions on NSAIDs are warranted. Currently, one of three NSAIDs—phenylbutazone, flunixin, and ketoprofen—can be administered at least 24 hours prior to race.
As for the rulings database, RMTC executive director Dr. Scot Waterman said members of the Horseplayers Association of North America and other fans have requested transparency in regard to rulings and access to the information.
“To our knowledge, this is the only database in existence that allows viewers to see not only the infractions but also a description of the possible uses and effects of the drug in the horse,” Waterman said. “We hope that this will begin the process of better clarifying the difference between medication management mistakes and more serious drug violations.”
The RMTC also reported progress has been made on determining threshold levels and withdrawal times for 13 therapeutic medications. Recommendations could be available in three or four months for acepromazine, boldenone, butorphanol, detomidine, firocoxib, fluphenazine, testosterone, nandrolone, stanozolol, and glycopyrrolate.
The RMTC is moving forward with its “Drug Testing Initiative,” which will incorporate laboratory standards and quality assurance programs. The group also adopted a strategic plan it said “outlines research, reorganization, and regulatory communications as key areas of focus in the organization’s future.”
RMTC officers Waterman, Arthur, Dr. Robert Lewis, Alan Foreman, Chris Scherf, and Tom Charters were re-elected to another term. RMTC chief executive officer Dan Fick has stepped down to focus on his new job with the Indiana Horse Racing Commission.