By Blood-Horse Staff

The Association of Racing Commissioners International said Jan. 5 it is taking steps to ensure regulatory agencies have adequate authority to sanction licensees who violate existing federal restrictions limiting the use of illegally compounded medications.

An already approved model rules policy would outlaw the possession or use of a drug, substance, or medication not specifically approved by an appropriate federal agency absent permission of the commission or its designee; ban the possession, use, or distribution of a compounded medication on track property if there is an United States Food and Drug Administration-approved equivalent of that substance available for purchase; require that a compounded medication be dispensed only by prescription issued by a licensed veterinarian to meet the medical needs of a specific horse and for use only in that specific horse; and create a rules violation for the possession of a compounded medication not properly labeled consistent with existing federal requirements.

“Commission investigators are finding that some are seeking to circumvent existing doping rules by using new drugs created by combining multiple substances in a compound,” RCI president Ed Martin said. “Existing federal rules requiring that compounded medications be dispensed only by veterinary prescription to address a specific medical need of an individual horse are being ignored by some. It is a problem that those doing this believe they won’t get caught by the feds.

“Racing commissions are taking steps to ensure that they can confiscate the substances and bring action against those who use or distribute these illegal compounds.”

Adoption of the new provision augments existing efforts by racing commissions to combat illegally compounded drugs. In 2012 several southern and western U.S. racing commissions quietly requested federal assistance in tackling the problem; today state and federal regulatory entities are cooperating in joint efforts.

Racing commissions deploy vehicle and barn searches that have been helpful in finding illegal substances, RCI officials said.

Action on a companion provision concerning medical labeling requirements was deferred by the RCI pending public comment on whether a prescription for a substance should be required to be issued by a veterinarian licensed in the racing regulatory jurisdiction where the track is located. Due to the fact that many horses participate in multiple jurisdictions, questions were raised as to whether such a requirement would impose an undue burden.

RCI officials said the new compounding rule was developed and drafted in part by Dr. Lynn Hovda, chairperson of the RCI Regulatory Veterinarians Committee; Dr. Dionne Benson, executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium; Hugh Gallagher of the New York Racing Association; Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission; and Dr. Rick Arthur of the California Horse Racing Board.