Mid-Atlantic Region Bans Bisphosphonates For Horses Under Four; HBPA Calls For National Ban

by | 03.26.2019 | 10:55am
The entire Mid-Atlantic region — regulators, horsemen's organizations, breeders' organizations, racetrack operators and veterinarians– has joined together to mandate an immediate and strict prohibition on the use of bisphosphonates in all horses under the age of 4. The decision was made at the annual Mid-Atlantic Regulatory and Stakeholders meeting held at Delaware Park on March 21, 2019. The action followed a recommendation from the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (THA) Board of Directors on March 7, 2019 urging a regional and national ban.

The Mid-Atlantic mandate is as follows:

“The entire Mid-Atlantic region will impose, and strongly urges all Thoroughbred industry stakeholders and regulators to support, the enactment of an immediate prohibition on the use of bisphosphonates in all horses under the age of 4, unless and until the scientific and veterinary community determines that the use of such drugs does not compromise the health and welfare of the horse. The use of bisphosphonates in horses 4 years old and older should be limited to only those horses who have been diagnosed with navicular disease by a veterinarian and for whom the use of such drugs is warranted.”


The organizations, stakeholders and regulators who joined in this directive are:

Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

New York State Gaming Commission

New York Racing Association

New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc.

Maryland Racing Commission

Maryland Jockey Club

Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

Maryland Horse Breeders Association

New Jersey Racing Commission

Darby Development (Monmouth Park)

New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

New Jersey Thoroughbred Breeders Association

Delaware Park

Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission

Pennsylvania Racing Commission

PARX Racing

Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association

Penn National Gaming

Pennsylvania HBPA

Hollywood Casino at Penn National

West Virginia Racing Commission

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town

Charles Town HBPA

Colonial Downs

Virginia Racing Commission 

National Steeplechase Association

The National HBPA, which participated in the Mid-Atlantic meeting and voted at the meeting to support the directive, has issued its formal support and will urge all its affiliates to join with their Mid-Atlantic affiliates in a nationwide prohibition.

“There is absolutely no reason for these drugs to be administered to a horse, except under the very limited circumstance for which they were approved by the FDA. While we recognize that there are scientific and testing challenges, it is indisputable that there is no legitimate extra-label use for these drugs in racing and breeding and we must act to stop it now if we are to fulfill our commitment to the health and welfare of the horse”, said Alan Foreman, Chairman and CEO of the THA and long-time coordinator of the Mid-Atlantic meetings.

“The regulatory community strongly supports this action and will take the necessary steps to see that it is enforced. I thank our Mid-Atlantic regulators and stakeholders for joining together quickly and unanimously to implement this prohibition and will seek the full support of the ARCI at our meeting in California”, said J. Michael Hopkins, Executive Director of the Maryland Racing Commission and Chairman of the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

“The National HBPA and its affiliates are, and have always been, committed to the highest standards of equine health and welfare. Together, we join with other major industry stakeholders and regulators in supporting an immediate prohibition on the off-label use of bisphosphonates, which we believe is in the best interest of our equine athletes and our industry”, said NHBPA CEO Eric Hamelback.

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