RMTC: Tighten Salix Rules, Ban Adjunct Drugs

Proposed changes in administration of race-day medication are moving forward.

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium supports administration of Salix by regulatory veterinarians only and a ban on adjunct bleeder medications, but will continue to study a pilot program proposal to ban the use of Salix in 2-year-olds .

The RMTC, a group of 25 industry stakeholders with a variety of positions on race-day medication, met Aug. 4 in Northern Kentucky. The meeting was one of several held recently to discuss proposed changes in equine drug rules, including an eventual ban on the anti-bleeding medication Salix (furosemide), also known as Lasix.

The proposed ban on Salix is a divisive issue, but there has been broad support for its regulatory administration, generally given four hours before a race. Also, horsemen’s groups that strongly opposed a Salix ban haven’t fought a ban on adjunct bleeder drugs also used on race day.

Thus, National Thoroughbred Racing Association president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop presented the recommendations from a RMTC committee that called for a model rule. The proposal will now go to the Association of Racing Commissioners International for consideration.

“This model rule is designed to cause the regulatory community to assume the responsibility for the race-day administration of furosemide,” Waldrop said in a statement accompanying a release from the RMTC. “Administration of any other medications on race day, including adjunct bleeder medications, shall be strictly prohibited. These steps will eliminate the need for private veterinary involvement on race day.”

No details on the discussion of the proposed Salix ban for 2-year-olds were released, though the RMTC reported that a “committee will continue its work on this subject.”

Already, Breeders’ Cup has proclaimed Salix won’t be permitted on race day for its 2-year-old World Championships races in 2012; in 2013 it won’t be allowed in any horses.

In other business the RMTC board of directors voted to set a June 1, 2012, deadline for all racing commissions to lower the phenylbutazone (Bute) testing threshold from five micrograms per milliliter to two micrograms, something that has been done in some jurisdictions; establish uniform penalty guidelines for all states; prepare a list of “detection levels” under which all drug positives will be called at all laboratories; and continue work on withdrawal times for accepted therapeutic drugs.

A committee of the RMTC is also developing best practices to improve race-day security.

RMTC chairman Dr. Robert Lewis called the Aug. 4 meeting “very productive” and said additional recommendations will be forthcoming when the organization meets Oct. 6.