Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Commentary: Give Bute the Boot

Thehorse.com - Full Article

by: Eric Mitchell
October 06 2010, Article # 17064

Few issues in horse racing fire up people's emotions like medication. A couple of years ago the target was anabolic steroids, and the industry reacted quickly. By Jan. 1, 2009, most U.S. racing jurisdictions had adopted rules banning the use of anabolic steroids.

Today the target is phenylbutazone, an analgesic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory more commonly known as Bute. Think Advil for horses.

The Model Rules Committee of the Association of Racing Commissioners International voted 12-0 (with one abstention) to lower the level of race-day Bute from 5 micrograms per milliliter to 2 micrograms. What is driving the proposed change is a concern that horses unfit to race are slipping past the pre-race veterinary exam because Bute is masking various problems. Rick Arthur, DVM, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, noted in a speech at The Jockey Club Round Table in August that 90% of all horses that suffer fatal musculoskeletal injuries have some pre-existing injury at the site of the fatal injury.

Lowering the threshold to 2 μ/ml (micrograms/milliliter) may allow the veterinarians conducting pre-race inspections to do their jobs better and avoid catastrophic breakdowns. That's the goal...

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