11/22/2006 1:00AM

Fatal clenbuterol OD seen

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A highly concentrated form of orally administered clenbuterol, the bronchial dilator, is believed to have led to the recent deaths of at least six horses in Louisiana. The issue came to light Nov. 20 when a distressed horse was brought to the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine Clinic, said Steven Barker, a professor at the school who also does drug testing for the Louisiana Racing Commission.

"We had a horse brought in on an emergency basis," he said. "The horse eventually had to be euthanized because of the effects of administration of the substance. The people who brought the horse also stated that another horse had already died from it, and they brought the material with them that they thought might be the cause. It was a generic bottle of clenbuterol syrup that they represented had been acquired at a tack shop, I believe in Texas, and that had been imported from Belize, Central America."

Barker said the horse had been given the correct dosage, but soon showed signs of profuse sweating and nervousness. He has since analyzed the substance the horse owners presented.

"It was clenbuterol, the problem was that the concentration that was in the bottle was 70 times greater than it should have been," said Barker. "So, these animals had what is basically a massive overdose of clenbuterol."

Barker said he believed the horse he examined was from Evangeline Downs, which is running a Quarter Horse meet. He also said the white plastic bottle containing the substance was not properly labeled as far as precautions and other mandatory information.