National HBPA to Issue Revised Medication Proposal

The National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association is prepared to release a revised proposal for a national policy on drug testing and therapeutic medication. The document deals with Class 1, 2, 3, and 4 medications, as well as prohibited practices.

In the preamble, the National HBPA says its goal is to "harmonize medication policies and their regulation across the United States. In approaching this goal, the National HBPA has chosen to build on established regulatory precedent (which) includes thresholds or regulatory limits ... The policy now also explicitly sets forth the need for withdrawal time guidelines keyed to the regulatory thresholds."

The document spells out zero-tolerance testing for performance-altering drugs and applies it to prohibited practices such as milkshaking and blood-doping; suggests thresholds and regulatory limits for therapeutic medications and dietary or environmental substances; calls for controlled administration of Salix, formerly known as Lasix; suggests withdrawal times tied to "the best possible scientific research"; acknowledges that the testing of blood, not urine, provides a "significantly superior scientific basis" for regulation of therapeutic medication; calls for testing standards in laboratories; and ongoing research.

The administrative basis for the policy is predicated on the standard that horses are entered to race 48 hours prior to first post time. It says that, where possible, "the therapeutic medication policies have been structured, or on revising should be structured, so as to minimize interference with the process of entering horses to race while preserving the health and welfare of the horse."

The proposed policy says thresholds or regulatory limits are in place for three Class 2 local anesthetics: bupivacaine, lidocaine, and mepivacaine. The National HBPA says the proposed limits would not apply if more than one anesthetic was detected in a sample.

The document suggests threshold or regulatory limits for 10 Class 3 therapeutics: acepromazine, a tranquilizer; albuterol, a bronchodilator; butrophanol, an analgesic; clenbuterol, a bronchodilator; glycopyrrolate, a bronchodilator; pentazocine, an analgesic; procaine, a local anesthetic; promazine, a tranquilizer; pyrilamine, an anti-histaminic; a terbutaline, a bronchodilator.

The document also lists threshold or regulatory limits for 15 Class 4 substances, many of them anti-inflammatories.

On the subject of Salix, the National HBPA says the bleeder medication should not be administered closer than three hours to post time. (Most jurisdictions use four hours, but five states use a three-hour rule, the document says.) Adjunct bleeder medications, such as those used in Maryland and West Virginia, should be permitted, the document says.

Regulatory limits also are suggested for dietary and environmental substances for which a number of states have guidelines in place. The substances are atropine, benzoylecgonine, caffeine, morphine glucuronides, salicylic acid, and theobromine.

The National HBPA first floated a medication policy in October 2002. It also surveyed its affiliates for input on medication rules and testing procedures. The revised document comes about one year after the first Racehorse Medication Summit held in Tucson, Ariz.

That meeting, facilitated by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, spawned the Racing and Medication Testing Consortium. An update on the consortium's progress was to be given Dec. 11 during the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing.