Kentucky Drug Policy Tweaked; Dialogue to Continue

The Thoroughbred medication policy approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority Aug. 15 was previously modified to allow for up to two adjunct bleeder medications instead of one on race day.

Meanwhile, even though Gov. Ernie Fletcher is expected to approve the policy as an emergency regulation, the General Assembly's Interim Joint Subcommittee on Licensing and Occupations has requested more testimony on equine medication and drug-testing at its Aug. 26 meeting. The subcommittee has addressed the issue at its last two meetings.

Previously, the KHRA and Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council advocated a race-day policy that allowed for the use of the bleeder medication Salix and one of four adjunct bleeder medications. The regulations released Aug. 15 allow for Salix and two of four adjuncts.

KHRA executive director Jim Gallagher said the move from one to two was "based on conversations with the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium on how to handle adjunct bleeder medications, and we also had conversations with practitioners. There are instances where more than one is used."

In the Mid-Atlantic region, a few jurisdictions allow for use of up to two adjuncts on race day. The consortium, which advocates uniform medication rules for all racing states, is allowing use of adjuncts through December 2006 pending the results of research into their effectiveness.

The Kentucky regulation clearly states adjuncts can't be used after Dec. 31, 2006, unless scientific evidence demonstrates their efficacy in mitigating exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage.

"We'll wait and see what the consortium recommends," said Alan Foreman, a consortium member chief executive officer of the Mid-Atlantic-based Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "That could effect everybody's policy."

The race-day medication policy currently in use in Kentucky allows for use of up to five substances: Salix; up to two non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (one must be phenylbutazone, with a choice of Banamine, flunixin, ketoprofen, meclofemanic acid, or naproxen); one steroidal drug (either dexamethasone, prednisolone, or prednisone); and Amicar, an adjunct bleeder medication.

The policy was adopted by the old Kentucky Racing Commission in 2002 but didn't go through the regulatory process. Previously, more than 15 drugs were available for use up to four hours before a race.

The regulation now offered by the KHRA lists four adjunct bleeder medications--aminocaproic acid, carbazochrome, conjugated estrogens, and tranexamic acide--two of which can be used up to four hours before a race. Veterinarians employed by trainers and licensed by the KHRA will be permitted to administer race day medications, though KHRA employees may accompany them and take possession of syringes.

The legislative subcommittee made no decisions on the change in race-day medication rules, though a few members questioned the need. One of them, Rep. Denver Butler, who chairs the subcommittee, couldn't be immediately reached for comment on the next step.

The change is opposed by the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, whose executive director, Marty Maline, indicated the battle isn't quite over. "I spoke to Rep. Butler, and they're going to talk about this further," he said.

The state Inspector General's office is investigating allegations that about 20 drug positives found by the Iowa State University laboratory weren't pursued by the racing commission in 2002 and 2003. Documents from that period reveal extensive dialogue about threshold levels, which Gallagher has said were changed numerous times, but there are no actual lab reports that identify samples or their origins.

Officials indicated the lab followed procedure by notifying racing commission officials of its findings. It was then up to the commission to follow through on the information.

It's also unclear whether some of thresholds for drugs such as caffeine were established in case of environmental contamination. The threshold levels weren't made public by the racing commission.

Some of the alleged uncalled positives were for Standardbred racing, which caught officials off guard. The race-day policy for harness racing has long said only Salix can be used; therefore, any other drug shouldn't be detected in a sample.