Changes to USA & Canada Drug Rules

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The United States and Canada on Wednesday announced changes in their drug rules.

Although American riders will be able to use two approved non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in competition horses for another 21 months, the U.S. Equestrian Federation in Lexington, Kentucky, set out new reporting procedures to take effect April 1.

In Ottawa, Ontario, the Equine Canada Medication Control Committee (EMCC) announced new measures that it said were designed to deter abuse and overuse of drugs and medication in horses, provide fairness to all participants, protect the safety of competitors, maintain health and welfare of the horse and promote fair competitions.

The U.S. Equestrian Federation annual meeting in January approved a change in the rule affecting the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

“Over the years,” The USEF said in a statement, “ongoing veterinary research has revealed that not only is there little or no benefit to administering more than one NSAID to a horse for most medical concerns, it can actually cause potentially harmful, even severe side effects.

“Motivated by its commitment to the welfare of the horse, the USEF Board of Directors voted to amend its Therapeutic Drug Rule and restrict use to a single NSAID beginning Dec. 1, 2011. Both the American Association of Equine Practioners (AAEP) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) support the rule change, and USEF joins other organizations including the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and Equine Canada in making this important rule change.

“While the presence of two of the seven approved and quantitatively restricted NSAIDs in a horse will still be allowed prior to December, 2011 (with the exception of the forbidden combination of phenylbutazone “Bute,” and flunixin meglumine [Banamine®]), it is important to note that new restrictions are in place concerning their use.

“Beginning April, 1, 2010, anyone using two NSAIDs in a horse within five days prior to participating at a USEF-licensed competition will be required to complete and file a NSAID Disclosure Form with the USEF Steward/Technical Delegate or their Designated Competition Office Representative. This form will allow the USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Program to collect valuable data regarding the use of NSAIDs in competition horses.”

USEF said it has developed an education plan to guide management, owners, trainers, and competitors through implementation of the rule change. The Federation has published an informational pamphlet and created the NSAID Disclosure Form available for distribution at shows. Both the form and the pamphlet are also available online at http://www.usef.org/documents/drugsMeds/NSAIDDisclosureForm.pdf.

The USEF said it is the responsibility of the competitor and their veterinarian to make certain the use of two NSAIDs within five days of competing is reported on the NSAID Disclosure Form and is properly filed with the USEF Steward/Technical Delegate or their Designated Competition Office Representative. The standard USEF Medication Report Form may not be used.

The new Canadian EMCC standards are the result of the analysis of several years of drug testing results in Canada. Equine Canada said it is broadening the scope of equine medication and anti-doping control to as many events as possible.

The new measures ensure that competitors can expect a standardized frequency and level of testing at all Equine Canada sanctioned competitions.  The 2010 Equine medication control fees are C$3.50 per horse entered in Bronze-level competitions and C$7.00 for Silver and Gold-level competitions. Competitions will be randomly selected on an annual basis to achieve the testing frequency targets.

“Welfare of the horse is always of paramount importance,” EMCC committee chair, Dr. Yves Rossier said. “We are proud there has not been a positive test in the past two years in EC sanctioned competitions, and we want to maintain the cleanest possible sport. These new standards are part of an accountable, transparent and forward thinking program.”