The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium in the US has approved minimum withdrawal time recommendations for corticosteroids in racehorses.
The recommendations were based on recently completed work funded in-part by the consortium and conducted at several laboratories and institutions.
The recommendations were developed during the consortium-hosted Corticosteroid Experts Conference in Anaheim, California, on November 30.
The meeting brought together qualified individuals with professional expertise in key areas with the goal of providing a comprehensive plan for regulating corticosteroid use in horse racing to protect equine health and welfare.
Participants included analytical chemists, veterinary pharmacologists, veterinary surgeons, racing regulatory veterinarians, and practicing racetrack veterinarians.
Among the recommendations was a prohibition on intra-articular use of corticosteroids within seven days of a race.
“This recommendation takes into consideration the concerns expressed by many participants at the conference about the proximity of intra-articular injections to race day, consortium executive cirector Dr Dionne Benson said.
The experts also recommended a 72-hour withdrawal time for dexamethasone, a commonly used short-acting corticosteroid that can be administered intravenously, intramuscularly and orally. Other short-acting corticosteroids would have similar restrictions.
“These recommendations represent the work of a number of laboratories and veterinarians both here in the US and overseas,” Benson said.
“This work was supported across the industry through funds contributed to the consortium for research as well as the experts’ time. Without the industry’s commitment, these recommendations would not be possible,” Benson said.
The group recognized that the recommendations will fundamentally change the use of corticosteroids and veterinary practice in racing.
Accordingly, the group recommended that these changes be accompanied by a grace period to allow veterinarians time to adjust their veterinary practices and to allow trainers time to adjust their training practices to comply with the new regulations.
Consortium chairman Dr Robert Lewis said: “The goal in bringing these experts together was to develop scientifically based and enforceable recommendations for the regulation of corticosteroids.
“The group’s recommendations allow for practitioners to use corticosteroids where medically indicated for treatment of the horse and remove the pressure of treatment based upon whether a horse is entered to race.”
The consortium approved the recommendations earlier this month and forwarded them to the Association of Racing Commissioners International for review.
The consortium comprises 25 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent thoroughbred, standardbred, quarter horse, and arabian racing.