Drug Consortium Forms Committee to Tackle Security

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has approved policy language on race-day use of Salix and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as environmental contaminants, and also formed a subcommittee to review race-day security practices.

The consortium met Jan. 26 in Hollywood, Fla., and is expected to hold its next meeting in April. In the meantime, details on consortium-funded research projects will be provided in mid-February.

The "policy language" is a result of suggestions made by regulators when they met with consortium officials in December in Tucson, Ariz. The suggested policy will now go to the Joint Model Rules Committee of the Association of Racing Commissioners International and North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators Association.

In December, officials discussed race-day medication, therapeutic medication, prohibited practices, NSAIDs, drug-testing procedures, and penalties. The consortium didn't release details of the policy to the public after the meeting, and the race-day section remained in flux.

Salix, the bleeder medication formerly called Lasix, is the only exception, but that was decided upon two years ago when the Medication Summit was held in Tucson. Other therapeutic medications, such as the ones used in Kentucky on race day and the adjunct bleeder medications used in most Mid-Atlantic states, eventually will be up for scientific review.

As the process continues, jurisdictions that want to maintain their current rules will have to prove--scientifically--the substances should be part of the national policy. The consortium, with the help of scientists and veterinarians, developed a list of 40 to 50 therapeutic drugs last year.

Dr. Scot Waterman, executive director of the consortium, said board members discussed regulators' suggestions Jan. 26, but the "changes recommended by regulators really didn't change the substance of the document." They also discussed discussion policy language relative to drug testing and prohibited practices based on input from RCI and NAPRA.

Security issues were first discussed at the 2001 Medication Summit. Waterman said a white paper by Ned Bonnie, an equine attorney and member of the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council, helped bring about creation of the consortium subcommittee.

"We felt the time was right," Waterman said of the look at security procedures. "We've made a lot of progress on the policy document."

In his paper, titled "Do We Really Want To Stop The Misuse Of Drugs In Horses?" Bonnie says the "scope of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has been too limited. It should convene a security and integrity subcommittee and proceed in a parallel course with efforts at reaching a consensus on a uniform drug rule by exploring and developing a security and integrity plan for the industry."

Bonnie suggests the consortium must have a financial plan in place as soon as possible to pay the costs of uniformity and to ensure integrity. He also believes uniform drug rules and testing procedures won't be effective without the security component.

"Preventing the pre-race medication of horses in the crucial 24-hour period prior to a race has not been adequately addressed by the Thoroughbred racing industry," Bonnie says in his paper.

Waterman said the consortium meeting was very well attended even though board members encountered weather-related travel problems. "I think the general acceptance of the (proposed policy) by regulators in December really gave it a shot in the arm," he said.