02/29/2016 2:20PM

RMTC changes some guidelines

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A horse-racing medication advisory group has recommended three new higher thresholds for substances on its regulated medications list, citing new research into the pharmacological effects of the drugs, according to a release from the group.

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, which is funded by a wide cross section of equine racing organizations, released the recommendations following a board meeting Feb. 23 in Florida. The recommended new thresholds apply to two sedatives/analgesics and a widely used anti-ulcer medication.

The threshold for xylazine, which is typically used in veterinary medicine as an analgesic or sedative, will be raised to 200 picograms per liter of blood serum, up from 10 picograms, at a recommended intravenous dose of 200 milligrams. The withdrawal guideline will remain at 48 hours, the RMTC said. Xylazine is a Class 3 drug.

The new threshold for the other analgesic/sedative, detomidine, will be raised to a nanogram per milliliter of blood, up from the level of detection, while the withdrawal guideline was changed from 48 hours to 72 hours. Detomidine is a Class 3 drug, with powerful sedative properties, and its only approved use is in horses.

The threshold for omeprazole, the anti-ulcer drug, will be changed to 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood, with the same withdrawal recommendation of 24 hours. Omeprazole, a Class 5 drug, is typically used daily to treat ulcers, and it is now frequently obtained from compounding pharmacies.

The RMTC said in a release that the new thresholds were set after research into the three drugs was completed at the UC-Davis Maddy Laboratory in California, at Kentucky Equine Research in Lexington, and at the University of Florida. The RMTC provided funding for the research.

Some horsemen’s groups and their members have criticized the RMTC under the accusation that the organization has set some threshold levels without conducting adequate studies into the pharmacological effects of drugs. The critics have also said that the RMTC has relied on research that is not available for public review. The RMTC has countered that it has used the best available information to set the thresholds, while also stating that some research is not publicly available because it has not yet been peer-reviewed.

In the RMTC release, the group’s executive director, Dr. Dionne Benson, said that the new thresholds represented “the best information available to make decisions.”

Also at the board meeting, the RMTC approved new recommendations for out-of-competition testing that expand the number of prohibited substances and address proper sampling procedures. The RMTC said the new recommendations were based on the procedures and policies used by the World Anti-Doping Agency for its own out-of-competition testing program. WADA recommends policies to member jurisdictions participating in the Olympics and its related events.