Regulators Step Up Push for Drug Uniformity: The Blood-Horse 9/16/15

By Tom LaMarra

The Association of Racing Commissioners International is stepping up efforts to get state regulators to fully adopt the National Uniform Medication Program.

ARCI chairman Mark Lamberth of the Arkansas State Racing Commission said Sept. 16 he is the process of forming a committee that will address implementation of equine medication reforms. ARCI and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium have worked jointly on model rules that are part of the National Uniform Medication Program.

“I’m currently reaching out to members to see if they can serve on the committee,” Lamberth said. “We’ll probably keep it relatively small—maybe eight or nine members. The committee will be charged with contacting every (racing) jurisdiction to see if it has or hasn’t made progress (in adopting the reforms). We will then offer the resources of RCI to find out why they haven’t passed something.

“It could be because of the legislative or executive branches of state government. Whatever it is, we want to find out so we can remedy that and have full compliance.”

The committee will meet primarily via teleconference, though Lamberth said he wants to schedule a face-to-face meeting in October. It will be charged with presenting a status report at the Dec. 7 ARCI board of directors meeting.

“This is going to be a very active committee,” Lamberth said. “I want RCI to reach out to jurisdictions to find out if there are problems with implementing model rules. RCI has got to be more active. We’re the regulators of the industry.”

Lamberth said racing states have made “tremendous strides” in adopting all or parts of the National Uniform Medication Program in a little more than two years, but full compliance is the objective. He said ARCI is committed to resolving what he called “minor differences” in state-by-state testing threshold levels for permitted therapeutic drugs not used on race day.

There is an ongoing debate within the Thoroughbred industry over whether state-by-state adoption of medication reforms is being done quickly enough or will be sufficient to bring about uniformity.

Lamberth also said a request for proposals for laboratory services is a key to medication reform, and that regulators will use the system as laboratory contracts expire and new ones are negotiated.

The RMTC, a group of about 25 industry stakeholders, for the past few years has actively educated racing regulatory agencies on medication reforms and has actively lobbied for their passage by each jurisdiction.