RMTC acts on bisphosphonates, NSAIDs, corticosteroids

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Aug. 27, 2019

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium has proposed a model rule that would classify use of bisphosphonates in younger horses as a prohibited practice and also agreed to recommend a ban on administration of all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs within 48 hours of a race.

The RMTC, comprised of 23 racing industry stakeholder organizations, took the action at its Aug. 19 Board of Directors meeting. It also addressed the “stacking” of NSAIDs and intra-articular injections.

The Association of Racing Commissioners at its recent summer meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., endorsed the 48-hour rule for all NSAIDS—the most widely one used at 24 hours is phenylbutazone—and earlier this year solicited input for a model rule on use of bisphosphonates.

The proposed regulation on bisphosphonates is available here.

The RMTC in a release said the bisphosphonates regulation was developed “in consideration of the presumed risk from administration of bisphosphonates to young horses racing and training, and the absence of any evidence for the safety of the drug in that population.” Earlier this year the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and other groups called for regulation of the substances, and major Thoroughbred auction companies announced a similar bisphosphonates ban on off-label use.

“Our Scientific Advisory Committee felt strongly that until there is research that proves otherwise, limiting the administration of bisphosphonates to horses four years of age and older and ensuring that the administration is done in accordance with label requirements are vital to protecting the welfare of our equine athletes,” RMTC Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Mary Scollay said.

Under current regulations, the administration of one NSAID is permitted between 24 and 48 hours prior to a race, but all others must be discontinued by 48 hours. The RMTC agreed that the detection of more than one NSAID would constitute a violation under the policy and said that regulatory language including proposed penalties and additional withdrawal guidance is in the works.

The Scientific Advisory Committee recommended, and the RMTC affirmed, that additional constraints on intra-articular injections are warranted, including a mandatory stand-down period following the injections as well as a prohibition on stacking corticosteroids—detection of more than one corticosteroid would constitute a violation. The cut-off for corticosteroids is generally seven or 14 days before a race.

The RMTC during its meeting also discussed plans for the third Regulatory Veterinarians Continuing Education Conference March 2-3 at Santa Anita Park in California.

Meanwhile, ARCI on Aug. 26 issued a release on action taken during its summer meeting, including a note that said it tabled consideration of a proposal from the Racing Officials Accreditation Program affecting automatic removal from various regulatory lists. ARCI said it will seek additional clarification from its Stewards Advisory Committee concerning the reasons for the proposal given the fact there usually are requirements associated with removal from the a stewards’ list, and such actions are not automatic.

ARCI said additional concerns were raised about “recent revelations” that horses were able to be removed from the veterinarian’s list maintained by InCompass Solutions by “unauthorized non-regulatory individuals,” and about “inconsistent or limited access” to regulatory lists housed by InCompass, a Jockey Club-operated company.