05/16/2014 11:54AM

Phenylbutazone banned in South Africa

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The South African Veterinary Council has banned the use of the painkiller phenylbutazone in horses, the council announced last week.

The directive reclassified the drug, which is commonly used therapeutically in horses in the United States and Europe, to a Schedule 7 substance, which bans use or possession of the drug. The directive requires veterinarians to dispose of any existing stock of the drug.

Phenylbutazone use in horses has become controversial in South Africa and European countries because the drug is not allowed to appear at any point of the food chain. Both regions still have small markets for horse meat, and horse meat is sometimes used to create animal feedstocks.

In both Europe and the U.S., use of phenylbutazone is allowed in racehorses, though regulated through threshold levels in post-race tests. Withdrawal time guidelines in the U.S. call for the drug to be prohibited within 48 hours of race.