CHRB Clarifies Rules for Thyroid Medication

Concerned about overuse, agency issues advisory on prescribing, using, and labeling.

The California Horse Racing Board, in an effort to curb "apparently indiscriminate use" of thyroid medications, has issued new instructions to veterinarians and horsemen for prescribing, dispensing, and labeling thyroid hormones.

The efforts are to ensure that those involved are in compliance with CHRB regulations. An advisory May 12 points out that all thyroxine within CHRB enclosures must be prescribed by a CHRB-licensed veterinarian for a specific horse and condition. In addition, the medication must be properly labeled in compliance with federal and state laws and CHRB regulations. Horse owners are encouraged to review their veterinary bills and consult with their veterinarians if thyroxine has been prescribed to any of their horses.

The horse, diagnosis, dosage, and estimated last administration date must be reported to the CHRB official veterinarian by practicing vets. The administration of thyroxine or thyroid hormones to horses must be reported by trainers. Any thyroxine or thyroid hormones or thyroid hormone analogs found within the racing enclosure and not properly labeled will be confiscated as contraband.

Thyroxine is prescribed for hypothyroid conditions and to assist weight loss in unusual circumstances.

Though not pinpointed as the cause, Thyro-L, a thyroid hormone, was used in horses involved in a cluster of seven horse deaths at the Hollywood Park barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert from late 2011 to early 2013. Baffert told CHRB investigators that he was using the legal medication on all of the horses he trained during that time.