New York issues advisory warning on use of bisphosphonates

Posted: March 29, 2019

The New York State Gaming Commission March 28 issued an “advisory warning” on use of bisphosphonates in racehorses under 4 years of age that includes heavy fines and license revocation.

The move follows a collective statement from Mid-Atlantic racing stakeholders that regulatory agencies should pursue a ban on the substances, a few of which are approved by the Federal Drug Administration for treatment of navicular disease in horses 4 years old and older.

“Thoroughbred horse owners, trainers and/or veterinarians who are responsible for causing or failing to guard against an administration of a bisphosphonate to a racehorse less than 4 years old will be investigated for a violation of 9 NYCRR § 4043.12(c) for which a fine of $25,000 may be imposed and the person’s occupational license shall be revoked,” the NYSGC said. “The New York State Gaming Commission has determined that there is no generally accepted medical use of a bisphosphonate in a racehorse that is less than 4 years old; that bisphosphonates are ‘other doping agents’ within the meaning of 9 NYCRR § 4043.12(c)(1); and that any such administration shall violate 9 NYCRR § 4043.12(c).

“This limitation applies to any Thoroughbred horse engaged in activities, including training, related to competing in pari-mutuel racing in New York. This includes without limitation any horses that are training outside the jurisdiction to participate in racing in New York who subsequently race in New York and all horses that are training in the jurisdiction. An administration occurs, within the meaning of 9 NYCRR § 4043.12(c), whenever a substance is introduced into the body of a horse, not only by deliberate introduction of the substance, but also by unintentional acts or omissions.”

The warning states that any administration of a bisphosphonate to a racehorse less than 4 years old is an unacceptable practice because of an unacceptably high risk of serious injury or death from deleterious effects on bone growth and strength as a consequence of such use. Therefore, trainers are responsible to guard their horses and to prevent the administration of any substance in violation of commission rules pursuant to 9 NYCRR § 4043.4(a), and owners and veterinarians are responsible for their acts or omissions that cause such violations.

A violation of the rule will result in exclusion of the horse from racing and the license revocation of any responsible person, the warning states.

The NYSGC also outlined a therapeutic exemption for certain horses.

“It is not a violation to administer a bisphosphonate to a racehorse pursuant to a valid therapeutic, evidence-based treatment plan,” the commission said. “A therapeutic, evidence-based treatment plan is a planned course of treatment written and prescribed by an attending veterinarian before the horse is treated that describes the medical need of the horse for the treatment, the evidence-based scientific or clinical justification for using the bisphosphonate, and a determination that recognized therapeutic alternates do not exist.”

The exception, however, does not permit bisphosphonate possession on the grounds of a licensed racetrack in New York. The NYSGC recommends that a treatment plan be submitted to Equine Medical Director Dr. Scott Palmer before any use, including for horses that might ship into New York.

The two FDA-approved bisphosphonates for treatment of equine navicular disease in horses 4 years old or older are Tiludronate disodium (Tildren) and Clodronate disodium (Osphos).

The complete NYSGC advisory warning/ban on bisphosphonates is available here.

The NYSGC general advisory on bisphosphonates is available here.

The complete list of Medication Alerts is available here.