Uniform Medication Overview

Uniformity is of utmost importance.

Uniformity is of utmost importance to horsemen, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region, as they often race in more than one state, and many race in multiple states each day. Collectively, the region represents the largest concentration of racing on a daily basis in the United States.

For this reason, the THA spearheaded a collaborative effort by racing commissions, horsemen’s organizations, racetracks, veterinarians, scientific experts and industry organizations to create a uniform medication and testing program to meet current industry needs and address safety, welfare and integrity concerns. The program, which was called the Mid-Atlantic Uniform Medication and Drug Testing Program and was enacted by every racing state in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, is now the National Uniform Medication Program (NUMP) and is being enacted and implemented throughout United States. Its four major components are: 1) a Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule; 2) third-party administration of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide (Lasix);  a multiple medication violation penalty system that flags and penalizes repeat offenders of racing’s medication control rules; and 4) a testing laboratory accreditation program with adherence to a stringent Code of Standards.

The THA greatly appreciates the collaborative effort of the regulatory, veterinary and scientific communities, as well as industry organizations such as the Association of Racing Commissioners International, Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and American Association of Equine Practitioners in bringing the unprecedented reforms to reality.

Here is an outline of NUMP:

All medications have been divided into 2 categories–Controlled Therapeutic Substances and Prohibited Substances.

The Controlled Therapeutics Schedule is a list of therapeutic medications that have been recognized by the scientific and veterinary community as necessary in the routine treatment of illness or injury in the horse. Dosing, withdrawal time guidance and uniform laboratory detection thresholds for these medications are provided as a safe harbor for horsemen in their use.

Horsemen are strongly encouraged to restrict use of medications to those on the current Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule, which was developed by the RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee, a group of the industry’s most respected toxicologists, pharmacologists, analytical chemists and regulatory and practicing veterinarians.

The schedule combines international research efforts and practical considerations and has been reviewed and approved by the RMTC board of directors, the ARCI Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee, and the ARCI board of directors. The list is a living document and will be amended from time to time.

Click here to view for the current list of Controlled Therapeutic Substances and Guidelines (alphabetically and BY CATEGORY).

The other category of medications are those medications that are not listed on the Controlled Therapeutic Substances Schedule. These medications are considered to be prohibited substances.  Many of these medications are routinely used in the treatment of illness or injury in the horse and their use is not necessarily prohibited in training. However, they may not be present in the horse on race day, and no dosing, withdrawal guidance or uniform laboratory testing detection limits are provided.

Therefore, extreme caution must be exercised in their use in a horse entered to race.  Horsemen and veterinarians are strongly cautioned to withdraw a horse from racing for a sufficient period of time after the administration of a medication not on the Controlled Therapeutic Substances Schedule to ensure against a positive test.

Every medication violation is assigned penalty points, just like your driving record. The points for medications that are not on the controlled list are enhanced.

Substances that do not affect the organ systems of a horse such as antibiotics, anti-microbials, vaccines, etc. (except for procaine penicillin and levamisole) are not prohibited and are not the subject of testing.

Lasix (furosemide), pursuant to strict Racing Commission supervised administration, is the only medication that can be administered to a horse within 24 hours of its race. The use of adjunct bleeder medications is prohibited.

Though five (5) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and recommendations for their use, are listed on the Controlled Therapeutic Medication Schedule–diclofenac, firocoxib, flunixin, ketoprofen and phenylbutazone–they should not be used in combination and only one of these NSAIDs may be present in a post-race sample. The presence of multiple NSAIDs in a post race test sample is called “stacking,” a prohibited practice because it is inimical to the welfare of the horse.

No intra-articular (IA) corticosteroid may be administered to a horse within seven (7)days of a race. The recommendations for the IA corticosteroids on the Controlled Therapeutic Substances Schedule are limited to administrations in one articular space only.

In regard to methylprednisolone acetate (Depo-Medrol), horsemen are strongly cautioned against the use of this medication for a horse in training. A trainer who chooses to race a horse that has been treated with Depo-Medrol despite this warning should, at his/her expense, get the horse tested prior to entry to ensure that the horse will test below the regulatory limit.

All laboratories performing testing for jurisdictions in this program are required to be accredited to ISO 17025 (International laboratory standards) and the more stringent RMTC Code of Standards. The laboratories are required to participate in ongoing accreditation review, including biannual blind sample testing under the RMTC’s external quality assurance program.

All participating jurisdictions are required to adopt and enforce the Multiple Medication Violation System, which tracks and regulates horsemen who commit multiple medication infractions. Multiple medication rules offenders face mandatory enhanced penalties under the system.

All medications in racing are classified (Class 1 to Class 5) based upon their potential to influence a horse’s performance and the welfare of the horse. All medications are also assigned a penalty class (Class A to Class D). Horsemen can consult the ACRI’s Uniform Classification of Foreign Substances list, maintained and updated from time-to-time by the ARCI, to determine a particular substance’s classification, and the ACRI Penalty Guidelines, which regulators are encouraged to consider when adjudicating medication violations.

For any specific questions regarding the National Uniform Medication Program, compliance with the program, medication guidelines and withdrawal times and the appropriate use of medications, you are encouraged to contact Dr. Benson, executive director of the RMTC, at (859) 224-2844 and/or consult your regulatory equine medical director or state veterinarian.