AAEP board votes to support federal bill, but hasn’t changed position on Lasix

Posted: Oct. 19, 2020

The American Association of Equine Practitioners Board of Directors has voted to support the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 based on the need for uniformity and the qualifications of individuals selected to serve on a Nominating Committee that will recommended members of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority and standing committees.

It has not changed its position on use of race-day Lasix and, as it has for several years, continues to urge for research into alternative therapies for exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.

The AAEP in a release said the board voted to support the bill on the recommendation of its Racing Committee. The legislation (Senate Bill 4547) has passed the United States House of Representatives and awaits consideration by the Senate. There is no timetable for a vote given the 2020 presidential election and far more pressing matters in Congress.

“Uniformity of rules is essential to protecting the safety of the racehorse and ensuring the integrity of the sport,” AAEP President Dr. David Frisbie said in the release.

The AAEP cited the selection of Drs. Jerry Black and Dr. Nancy Cox as members of the Nominating Committee, which will select members of standing committees under the bill. The organization said that for the horse to be best served, the AAEP will continue to advocate for additional veterinary representation on the HISA board and committees beyond the single position currently designated for each.

“In the previous version of the bill, the AAEP was a strong proponent for the governance structure to include individuals with the requisite expertise needed to capably address anti-doping and therapeutic medication regulation,” said Dr. Jeff Berk, who chairs the Racing Committee. “The composition of the authority Nominating Committee gives us confidence that the needed scientific expertise for these important positions will be considered, but we believe the breadth of knowledge needed to successfully protect equine athletes requires additional individuals.”

The AAEP said its position on the use of race-day Lasix “continues as one of support, as the medication remains the most efficacious treatment for exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage in the horse.” HISA would ban race-day Lasix in all stakes and 2-year-olds races, and grant each jurisdiction the option for a three-year “exemption” from the ban for all other races until the results of a study on race-day Lasix are completed.

The authority would ultimately decide whether the therapeutic medication is completely banned.

Several racing companies or associations, with regulatory approval, this year began banning Lasix in 2-year-olds within 48 hours of a race, and that will expand to graded stakes in 2021.

“We are pleased to see in the revised legislation that the authority will convene an advisory panel comprised of horseracing anti-doping and medication control experts to study race-day furosemide, including its impact on equine health and the integrity of competition,” said Dr. Scott Hay, AAEP President-elect and a racetrack practitioner. “Investigating effective management strategies for EIPH which do not require race-day medication administration has been a central goal of the AAEP’s Prescription for Racing Reform developed five years ago.”