Drug Policy: Room for More--With Scientific Evidence

Regulators in the United States will get their first look at a proposed national medication and drug-testing policy Dec. 10, but even if it wins widespread support, it could take some time before any changes are enacted in various jurisdictions.

The Racing and Medication Consortium has worked on the document for some time. After the three-hour meeting in Tucson, Ariz., it's quite possible some aspects of the proposal will be released to the public, but others remain a work in progress.

Though Salix is the only medication the consortium has agreed upon for race-day use, that doesn't mean other substances are off the table, officials close to the situation said. Jurisdictions that employ other race-day medications -- Florida, Kentucky, and Maryland, to name a few -- most likely will continue to do so until there is scientific evidence they should or shouldn't use the substances in racehorses.

There also have been calls from some quarters for uniform thresholds for therapeutic medications. The National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association advocated thresholds and withdrawal times in a position paper it issued two years ago, just before the Medication Summit in December 2001.

Even individuals or associations that are against a Salix-only policy for race day have said they support uniform rules and drug-testing procedures for all jurisdictions.