Study Suggests Need For Another Revision To Uniform Drug Guidelines

by | 09.14.2017 | 12:48pm

Recommended withdrawal guidelines for detomidine, commercially known as Dormosedan, may face review after a recent study suggested horses could test positive while adhering to the withdrawal guidelines, depending on the dose they receive. The current guideline from the Racing Medication Testing Consortium suggests the threshold for a positive be set at 2ng/ml in urine and 1 ngl/ml in blood, with the recommended withdrawal for a 5 mg intravenous dose set at 48 hours.

Detomidine is a relatively short-acting sedative with some analgesic properties and may be used to reduce stress during medical procedures or travel, or in hospital settings.

Recently, the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council funded a study to examine the behavior of a 20 mg dose (given intravenously or intramuscularly), which some veterinarians say is also used in the field, depending upon the situation.

For tests of the drug using a blood sample, a 20 mg dose was well below the recommended threshold by 48 hours post-administration; in some cases the drug was almost undetectable. In the case of urine tests for detomidine however, several samples were over the threshold at 48 hours.

Unfortunately, the study was designed to stop at 48 hours post-administration, and therefore did not shed light on whether extending the window to 72 hours would be sufficient to avoid accidental positive tests.

“The dose that was investigated initially was a 5 mg dose. A lot of our veterinarians use a 5 mg dose. Dr. [Andy] Roberts and some other veterinarians wanted to know if they could use a 20 mg dose. It's going to give a bigger effect,” he said. “Very few of these substances that affect the central nervous system have a dose that's fixed. It's a dose range, and I think it's a legitimate question on Dr. Roberts' part about using that 20 mg dose.”

Sams, who is a member of the RMTC's Scientific Advisory Committee, said these types of revisions are to be expected as more information comes to light about different drugs and their behavior in horses. Unfortunately, there is a disparity between the public's thirst for uniform regulations and the amount of time (and money) it takes to complete studies like this one, which ultimately highlights the need for more research.

“The process was moving very slowly years ago and the RMTC came under enormous pressure to move forward and have thresholds for all of these substances that veterinarians had identified. The future of the RMTC, I think, was on the line at that point,” Sams remembered. “We made some less-than-optimal choices with regard to doses, but veterinarians were involved in every step of the way.”

Editor's Note: Dr. Mary Scollay, member of the RMTC Scientific Advisory Committee and the EDRC, pointed out this finding does not invalidate the current withdrawal guideline for the 5 mg dose; rather, it shows horses may test positive if receiving a 20 mg dose at the 5 mg withdrawal time.

  • Curt Muth

    Why would anyone need to sedate a race horse within 72 hours of a race? joint injections anyone????????????????????????

    • Hossdoc

      It’s mostly used for horses that are getting shod 2 days before they run

      • Peter Scarnati

        Horses getting shod need medication?? Incredible.

        • EriNC

          When you have a hot on your toes Animal ready to run absolutely. I worked with a horse that wasn’t off the track 2 years, was still an absolute nutcase to shoe unless drugged. Also most thoroughbreds ace bad feet and require corrective shoeing which takes longer.

          • Blue Larkspur

            Then shoe them more than 72 hours before a face … it’s real simple

        • Condor

          The majority are so used to being handled that they do not need sedating to be shod. There drugging them for other reasons, do not be fooled by the shoeing excuse.

      • HorsePower Racing

        shoe them 3 days in advance problem solved

  • Hamish

    Why not cut the list of permitted drugs being used on the horses, then there would be far less research, money and time required establishing thresholds and withdrawl guidelines? Seems a half dozen or so drugs would be plenty.

    • billy

      Testosterone as a therapeutic treatment for a gelding…. joint injections to a voiceless being the list goes on and on and it’s accepted.rediculous

  • Andrew Mollica

    RMTC itself needs to be revisited! No transperacy . . . in house science and no peer review, not widely accepted as valid by the scientific community is not a good recipe for racing’s future.
    As for vets being in on the decsiion making . . . well how about good science that vets and horsemen and women can depend upon? “Less than optimal choices?” Tell that strory to some poor owner who lost a purse or much worse someone who lost their ability to make a living becasue of a less than “optimal choice.” This has to end and again the Ky. case and decison says it all! if the science can not meet the Frey-Dahlbert standard there is no case!

    • Elliot

      My goodness Drew. Where do you come up with this stuff? I am not aware of the “Frey – Dahlbert” standard and I have spent a bunch of time litigating. I am aware of “Frye and Daubert” which might be what you are trying to refer to; however, given that you are not even remotely close in the association of them to what you are saying here then again maybe not and you are just making up case names and legal standards as you have done in the past. The people I really care about are the poor people who have lost purse money or much worse to a cheater. It is funny how just about every horse and trainer is able to win races without positive tests but the people you are worried about are the very small handful of people who violate the rules when it comes to doping. Seems to me if the methodology and testing were as flawed as you act like they are and contamination such a real problem then there would be dozens and dozens of violators but that simply is not the case. Simply put Drew the Kentucky decision (which btw has been appealed) that you love to flog had nothing to do with a Daubert challenge. You may want to consider asking for a refund of your law school tuition if you were taught otherwise or were taught about some fictitious Dahlbert case.

    • ben

      Have you ever heard that each and any thoroughbred is an individual. With the individual metabolizing from whatsever medication. Also in combination with other used medication.
      The RMTC has to stop at once. And a complete zero should be the norm, likewise in Europe and the rest of the World. If you do use the medications no problem, but each horse should be tested before entering the starting gate, at the expense from the owners.

      • ben

        But andrew mollica, you are helping the cause for zero tresholds fabuleous. More than any one else.

  • Jack The Ripper

    Why do Americans always try to fool people ? Horse racing exist on every Continent with the exception of course of Anartica but why do they continuously take it upon themselves to say that a horse needs this or a horse needs that when it comes to drugs ? I have never once in my life heard of a drug being administered in the UK or IRE so a horse can have a shoe put on. It seems that needles have replaced horsemanship in America. Call me old fashioned but I don’t want horses sedated I don’t want horses on pain medications so it can’t feel it’s feet. If a horse is off or in destress I want to know.

    • RR

      I agree with your comments but some horses do need sedating in the uk/ire for shoeing/clipping/teeth etc but america seems to be in to much of a hurry to get the syringe out, it would need a complete culture change to fix. Drug them to grow/run fast/run through pain and to stand still! Crazy.

    • james smoot

      Minute amounts of these potent tranquilizer some hours out will increase performance seen it in mornings training

  • peggy conroy

    I’ve been shoeing my own horses, on and off the track, for 30 years and never had to drug one to do it. Can’t imagine this in a horse handled properly.

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