The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has approved minimum withdrawal time recommendations for corticosteroids based on recently completed work at the University of Pennsylvania, University of California-Davis Kenneth L. Maddy Laboratory, HFL Laboratory Kentucky, and other corticosteroid research centers both in the United States and abroad.
The work was partially funded by RMTC, which approved the recommendations earlier this month and forwarded them to the Association of Racing Commissioners International for review.
Recommendations were developed during an RMTC-hosted Corticosteroid Experts Conference in Anaheim, Cal. Nov. 30. The meeting brought together qualified individuals with professional expertise in key areas with the goal of providing a comprehensive plan for regulating corticosteroid use in horse racing to protect equine health and welfare.
Participants included analytical chemists, veterinary pharmacologists, veterinary surgeons, racing regulatory veterinarians, and practicing racetrack veterinarians.
Among the recommendations was a prohibition on intra-articular use of corticosteroids within seven days of a race.
"This recommendation takes into consideration the concerns expressed by many participants at the conference about the proximity of intra-articular injections to race day," said RMTC executive director Dionne Benson in a release.
The experts also recommended a 72-hour withdrawal time for dexamethasone, a commonly used short-acting corticosteroid that can be administered intravenously, intramuscularly, and orally. Other short-acting corticosteroids would have similar restrictions.
"These recommendations represent the work of a number of laboratories and veterinarians both here in the U.S. and overseas," said Benson. "This work was supported across the industry through funds contributed to the RMTC for research as well as the experts' time. Without the industry's commitment, these recommendations would not be possible."
The group recognized the recommendations will fundamentally change the use of corticosteroids and veterinary practice in racing. Accordingly, it recommended these changes be accompanied by a grace period to allow veterinarians time to adjust their veterinary practices and to allow trainers to adjust their training practices to comply with the new regulations.
"The goal in bringing these experts together was to develop scientifically based and enforceable recommendations for the regulation of corticosteroids," said RMTC chairman Robert Lewis. "The group's recommendations allow for practitioners to use corticosteroids where medically indicated for treatment of the horse and remove the pressure of treatment based upon whether a horse is entered to race."