Mid-Atlantic Regulators Endorse Medication Policy

Regulators in the Mid-Atlantic region, who have been working together for years on uniform medication rules, agreed Jan. 20 to endorse the model medication and drug testing policy devised by the national Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.

Racing commissioners and staff from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia attended the meeting. West Virginia wasn't represented, but officials there have participated in previous meetings.

In a release, Mike Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, said it's "the first time multiple racing jurisdictions have agreed on a medication policy addressing in detail the use of medications in racehorses and bringing together diverse scientific perspectives as well as philosophical issues."

Though the commissions endorsed the model rules, each jurisdiction must vote on the policy. The model rules in part govern race-day medication, testing procedures, and penalties.

"This is significant," said Alan Foreman, chief executive officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and a representative on the national consortium. "All the commissions are fully committed to it."

The model rules call for use of only Salix, the bleeder medication formerly known as Lasix, on race day. Some Mid-Atlantic states, including Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, allow use of adjunct bleeder medications such as amicar on race day.

Foreman said the states would continue using them until research indicates they shouldn't be used. The national consortium has taken no position on adjunct bleeder medications pending the research.

The consortium is scheduled to meet Jan. 24. Foreman said he plans to "push hard" to get the study on adjunct bleeder medications performed as quickly as possible.

The consortium during its meeting is expected to discuss penalties for medication violations. Though guidelines haven't been adopted, the group is considering a lifetime ban for Class 1--the most serious--violations.

"The consortium is going to send a message with Class 1 and even Class 2 violations," Foreman said. "But the policy with respect to penalties hasn't been finalized."