AAEP Calls for Steroid Ban in Sale Horses

Edited press release

The American Association of Equine Practitioners' Task Force on Medication Issues at Public Auction has released its recommendations for medication usage in horses presented for sale at public auctions. They include the banning of anabolic steroids in horses on the sale grounds and also call for sale companies to serve as the "principle enforcers" of the recommendations.

The objective of the recommendations is to establish best practices for the presentation of horses at public auction for fair and equitable establishment of the horse's value and to discourage the use of medication that may cloud the horse's true health status.

The task force, chaired by AAEP past president and prominent surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage, evaluated the use of medication in the sales horse during three critical time periods: pre-sale, on the sale grounds, and post-sale. The common medications given to horses intended for sales have been grouped into four categories in order to address such as issues as medications allowable at therapeutic levels in the horse, and medications that should not be allowed once the horse arrives on the sale grounds.

The recommendations call for allowing therapeutic levels of the following medications on the sale grounds: one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug with no detectable level of a second NSAID; one corticosteroid (excluding Depomedrol), with no detectable level of a second corticosteroid; medications labeled for ongoing therapy of gastric ulcers; tranquilizers; oral anti-arthritic medications such as proteoglycan supplements; and progestins.

The following drugs should not be permitted on sale grounds except at trace levels: treatments commonly recognized as therapeutic for equine protozoal myeloencephalitis; bronchodilators such as clenbuterol; vaso-active drugs such as aspirin, isoxuprine, and pentoxifylline; and parenteral anti-arthritics such as injectable proteoglycan supplements.

The following medications, along with anabolic steroids, should not be allowed at any detectable level: stimulants, muscle relaxants, and diuretics.

Drugs that should be allowable at therapeutic levels, but would have to be declared in the repository or announced by the auctioneer, are cyproheptadine, pergolide, and antibiotics.

The AAEP board of directors approved the recommendations at its Dec. 2 meeting in Seattle, Wash. In addition to Bramlage, other members of the task force are veterinarians Craig Van Balen, Jeffrey Berk, Sam Ferguson, Roger Murphy, and Scott Pierce.