07/18/2011 3:50PM

Racing commissioners schedule hearing on Lasix


A standing committee of an organization representing state racing commissions has scheduled a meeting for July 26 to examine issues related to the raceday use of furosemide in North American racing, the organization, the Association of Racing Commissioners International, announced on Monday.

According to the RCI, the meeting of the Drug Testing Standards and Protocols Committee will allow members of the committee to ask questions of veterinarians and other medication experts about the impact of a proposed raceday ban of the drug, a diuretic that is used to treat bleeding in the lungs.

“The central question for regulators is the extent to which the removal of this medication on those days a horse actually races would pose any significant health risk,” said Ed Martin, the president of the RCI.

Presenters who have been asked to speak at the committee meeting include N. Edward Robinson, a Michigan State University professor who is an expert on equine airway disease; Tom David, a veterinarian who is the chairman of the RCI’s Regulatory Veterinarian Committee; and Scott Palmer, a veterinarian who is the chairman of the American Association of Equine Practitioners’s Racing Committee.

Earlier this year, the RCI’s chairman, William Koester, said in a speech at the association’s annual convention that raceday use of Lasix should be banned. The comments triggered an industry-wide debate on the drug, which is legal to administer on race day in every North American racing jurisdiction but banned in every other racing country.

The debate led to the organization of a conference held in early June to discuss Lasix use and the drug’s efficacy in treating bleeding. Several RCI officials attended the conference.

Last week, the Breeders’ Cup announced that it will ban the use of Lasix on race day for its year-end event, beginning in 2013. Next year, use of the drug will be banned at the five races on the two-day card restricted to 2-year-olds.