New Legislation Seeks to End Race Day Medication Use

By: Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division

While yet another year has passed without a triple-crown winner, the horse racing industry has not escaped Congress’ attention. In May, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) introduced the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2013 (S. 973/H.R. 2012), which puts new restrictions on medication use in race horses.

The legislation designates the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency as the independent organization that would develop, maintain and publish rules on medications used in race horses. It also seeks to end all race day medication use, including a two-year phase out for the use of Furosemide on race day. Furosemide is used to prevent exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH).

Rep. Pitts released a statement indicating that “this is a sensible, bipartisan measure to restore trust in racing and protect lives.”

AVMA is currently evaluating the legislation. AVMA held a nonsupport position on similar legislation last Congress that sought to ban race day medications. This is due to the direct conflict the legislation had with AVMA’s policy on the Use of Therapeutic Medications in Racehorses, which supports the use of Furosemide on race day for the treatment and prevention of EIPH.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) is also engaged on this issue. For more information, see AAEP’s website, including a white paper for veterinarians practicing in a pari-mutuel environment.

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