The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium board of directors took several actions March 17 intended to further the process toward the nationwide adoption of uniform medication rules, penalties, and testing.
The actions came during the RMTC's regular board meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
The board, with respect to the "Schedule" of controlled therapeutic substances—the list of 24 medications at the center of the uniform medication rules—took took the following actions:
— adopted a detailed set of protocols for adding to or amending the original list of 24 medications;
— recommended to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) that the bronchodilator albuterol and the corticosteroid isoflupredone be added to the Schedule;
— recommended to RCI a reduction in the threshold for the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory ketoprofen;
— recommended to RCI an increase in the withdrawal time guidance for the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory flunixin;
— approved funding for the scientific analysis of five therapeutic medications at the request of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP); and
— voted to join the AAEP in petitioning RCI to remove the restricted administration times and replace them with withdrawal guidance as originally proposed by the RMTC.
"These actions of the RMTC board, including recommendations to amend the schedule by adding two new medications to provide veterinary practitioners treatment alternatives and modifying the recommendations for two others, demonstrate what we have been telling the industry from the beginning: The uniform rules are not static but will be amended as new scientific research and development becomes available," said RMTC chairman Alex Waldrop.
In response to recent media coverage that erroneously suggested the RMTC has changed course or retreated from an earlier position regarding substances not listed on the Schedule, the RMTC board affirmed its position that the Schedule does not preclude the use of medications other than those on the Schedule. However, in using non-Schedule medications, participants proceed at their own risk without the guidance provided with respect to medications found on the Schedule or the protections found in other parts of the uniform rules.
"The RMTC has not wavered from its original position regarding substances not on the list of controlled therapeutic medications," said RMTC executive director Dr. Dionne Benson. "Specifically, RMTC has never advocated a zero-tolerance policy for these substances and encourages regulators to continue working toward the enactment of uniform rules, penalties, and testing."
The RMTC board also affirmed its strong commitment to tactical research by approving a 2014 budget allocating significant funds targeting research into emerging threats to the integrity of racing, including (the drug known as) GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and the improper use of cobalt.
RMTC board members also heard presentations from staff concerning their work and the work of board committees regarding possible amendments to RCI Model Rules involving dietary and endogenous substances, out of competition testing, and unauthorized presence of illicit substances on commission grounds. The board was briefed on the consortium's continued focus on fund-raising, which includes appeals to tracks, breeders, owners, trainers, industry organizations, and others across all breeds.
Finally, the RMTC board voted to create a new subcommittee to address potential issues related to the laboratory procurement process. This subcommittee will assist regulatory authorities in making informed decisions regarding drug testing services.
"It is important for commissions to know exactly what testing is actually being conducted pursuant to their drug testing contracts," stated Dr. Mary Scollay, chair of the subcommittee. "The goal of the subcommittee is to give guidance to the commissions concerning how they can obtain the very best testing each laboratory can offer."