Medication Summit Called 'New Beginning'

Officials are planning the next steps in studying race-day medication use.

A baby step toward progress was how organizers described the two-day International Race Day Medication Summit held June 13-14 at Belmont Park.

No recommendations came out of the industry conference created to educate industry leaders here and abroad about the use of the anti-bleeder medication furosemide in the United States. The U.S. is the only racing jurisdiction in the world that allows race-day use of furosemide, known by the brand name Salix.

“The summit represents a new beginning and a new opportunity to begin a journey,” said Dr. Scott Palmer, racing committee chairman for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. “I sensed a spirit of consensus that our problems are real and medication is one of them. A number of options were proposed and evaluated. We have the opportunity to use this summit as a springboard to develop actions to address these issues.”

The AAEP pulled the summit together in cooperation with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.

The next step will be a follow-up meeting in July of the RMTC board, which will take over the lead in the debate and analysis of race-day medication use because it is a consortium of 25 racing industry stakeholders. The RMTC’s mission is to develop and promote uniform medication rules, policies, and testing standards in additional to coordinating research and education programs.

No firm direction exists yet on how the issue of race-day medication should proceed, nor is there what can be defined as real consensus on any specific issues.

“I think consensus is probably too strong a word right now,” said Alex Waldrop, president and chief executive officer of the NTRA. “I would say we identified broad areas of interest that have to do with administration options with Salix, securities, penalties, education, and research. We are going to be asking for additional background information in preparation for our July meeting, come back with the new information, and dig into the information we learned on day one. Then we’ll see which way to go.”

The first day of the session was packed with presentations from veterinarians, researchers, international racing executives, and trainers.

Researchers showed Salix was clearly the most effective medication availablefor controlling and minimizing bleeding. Testimonials from racing executives, veterinarians, and trainers from overseas, however, also showed how they successful manage and race horses identified as bleeders without the option of using the medication on race day.

In some countries, Salix is allowed to be used while training, but Hong Kong does not allow the use of furosemide in either training or racing.