The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium board of directors adopted recommendations for thresholds and withdrawal times for four therapeutic medications identified by the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
The recommendations, made at its March 19 meeting in Baltimore, were for procaine penicillin, lidocaine, detomidine, and xylazine.
While some of the recommendations were termed interim, the adoption of these thresholds and withdrawal times will enable the RCI to provide its members with a complete list for the 24 therapeutic medications identified by the RCI, RMTC, and the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
"The RMTC's approval of these last few thresholds and withdrawal times from the set of 24 therapeutic substances identified by the industry represents a significant investment of resources by the RMTC and its stakeholders," said RMTC chairman Dr. Robert Lewis in a release. "These guidelines will pave the way for uniform adoption of medication regulations across the country."
The completion of this list also coincides with the recent effort toward medication and testing uniformity undertaken in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states.
"The adoption of these final thresholds is a key step that will enable RCI to enact the Controlled Therapeutic Substances List, which will then enable the participating states to begin the adoption and implementation process," said Alan Foreman, RMTC vice chairman and Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association chairman, in a statement.
In addition to the four therapeutic substances identified, the RMTC board also approved secondary thresholds for the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories phenylbutazone and flunixin meglumine. A secondary threshold is the permissible level for a second medication where there are two medications of the same type (here phenylbutazone, flunixin or ketoprofen). The primary threshold no longer applies to the second NSAID found in a sample. Instead, a lower secondary threshold applies to the second medication.
The secondary thresholds were adopted in response to concerns over administration of multiple NSAIDs within 48 hours of racing—a practice known as "stacking."
"The administration of multiple NSAIDs is a welfare and safety concern for our equine and human athletes," said Dr. Rick Arthur, RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee chair and California's equine medical director, in a release. "The adoption of secondary thresholds will avoid the administration of phenylbutazone and flunixin in combination within 48 hours of racing."
The RMTC board also addressed a number of important issues including therapeutic medications, laboratory accreditation, and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's Equine Drug Research Council's request to join the RMTC board. Among the other highlights were a presentation from an RMTC-sponsored research fellow and a discussion of penalty guidelines for medication violations.
• RMTC board members also granted interim accreditation status to the University of California-Davis' Kenneth L. Maddy Laboratory. The Maddy Laboratory is the first laboratory to achieve interim accreditation status under the RMTC's laboratory accreditation program guidelines. RMTC staff also reported that a number of laboratories have expressed significant interest in the RMTC's accreditation program since the first of the year.
"We are excited to approve the Maddy Laboratory for interim accreditation," said Mike Tanner, executive vice president for the United States Trotting Association, in a statement. "Accreditation of all laboratories testing horse racing samples in the United States is an important step toward uniformity and ensuring that all laboratories are performing at the same high level of proficiency."
• The RMTC also approved the EDRC's request for a seat on the RMTC board of directors. The EDRC sponsors medication and illegal substance research in the state of Kentucky.
"The addition of the EDRC will give the RMTC a powerful partner, enabling us to enhance our research capabilities," said RMTC executive director Dr. Dionne Benson. "These types of partnerships allow the RMTC to work in conjunction with other groups to use limited research dollars wisely."
• In other business, RMTC directors received an update from Dr. Mary Robinson of the University of Pennsylvania. The RMTC sponsored Dr. Robinson's post-doctoral fellowship training in the area of pharmacology and testing of medications and drugs in horse racing. Dr. Robinson presented information regarding a research study sponsored in part by RMTC on shockwave therapy. Dr. Robinson is one of two research fellows who are completing their final year of an RMTC grant.
• The board also participated in an extensive discussion of different proposals for the revision of penalties associated with medication and drug related violations.
"The RMTC and ARCI have expended significant resources for medication research and laboratory accreditation," said RMTC board member and National Thoroughbred Racing Association President and CEO Alex Waldrop. "Penalties for violations are all that remain to be addressed and the RMTC stands ready to assist the RCI in finalizing these important deterrents."