Pennsylvania adopts full national medication program

by | Aug 10, 2016 | Breaking, Business, PA Business, Pennsylvania

Racing at Parx. Photo by  Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

From a Racing Medication and Testing Consortium release

The Racing Medication and Test Consortium (RMTC) today announced that Pennsylvania has become the 10th state to pass the National Uniform Medication “Program” in its entirety. With the adoption of the Program by the Pennsylvania Racing Commission on July 27, the state is the latest racing jurisdiction to implement all or portions of the Program in 2016.

Developed by the RMTC and enacted as model rules by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, the Program is comprised of a Controlled Therapeutic Substances (CTS) list, third-party administration of furosemide, a multiple medication violation (MMV) penalty system and a requirement for laboratory accreditation and participation in an industry external quality assurance program.

States that now have adopted the Program in full are Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Dakota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Once the New York laboratory receives full RMTC Laboratory Accreditation as anticipated this fall, the Program will then be adopted in 11 jurisdictions representing 39% of the U.S. Thoroughbred pari-mutuel handle.


“RMTC Vice Chair and Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association CEO Alan Foreman helped facilitate adoption of the National Uniform Medication Program in Pennsylvania,” stated RMTC Executive Director Dr. Dionne Benson. “It continues to be a top priority for RMTC staff and officers to travel to commissions across the country and meet with horsemen groups in order to assist in this process. While we are encouraged by the progress, we look forward to more adoptions by commissions around the country before the year’s end.”

The MMV penalty system, which was the final component that the Pennsylvania commission needed to adopt, creates a tracking system for an individual’s violations and provides enhanced penalties for those who accumulate multiple medication violations – regardless of the jurisdiction in which they occur.

In implementing the MMV penalty system, Pennsylvania joined New York – which also adopted it in 2016 – as well as Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia. These states represent 40% of the total U.S. Thoroughbred pari-mutuel handle.

Over the last year, racing states adopting the Controlled Therapeutic Substances list have increased from 15 to 20­. These states represent 94% of the national Thoroughbred pari-mutuel handle. The CTS list establishes strict regulatory thresholds and provides withdrawal times for 30 specific medications for the routine treatment of illness or injury in the horse. Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana and Texas have now joined Arkansas, California, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia in regulating therapeutic medications using the medication schedule.

“We’re thrilled that the CTS list has been adopted by every major racing state in the country,” said Benson. “It’s proved to be vitally important to protecting the welfare of the racing horse; in fact, veterinary experts have noted a link between the administration guidelines provided for corticosteroid injections and a reduction in racing injuries.”

Commissions requiring third-party administration of furosemide (commonly referred to as Lasix) on race day have risen from 16 to 19. This policy, which is a key component of the Program, effectively restricts the access of private veterinarians to horses on race day. The California Horse Racing Board, which approved the policy earlier this summer, as well as commissions in Idaho and Montana, have now joined Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia in implementing the regulation. These states represent 85% of the U.S. Thoroughbred pari-mutuel handle.

When the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at Texas A&M University received RMTC Accreditation last October, Texas became the 27th horse racing state to utilize an RMTC-accredited lab and external quality assurance program for its equine drug and medication testing services – up from 24 one year ago. Texas, Montana and Nevada now join Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming in solely using RMTC-accredited lab testing services. The laboratory accreditation and quality assurance programs are modeled on gold standard human protocols established by the World Anti-Doping Agency and ensure that all laboratories are operating at the same high level of proficiency. This consistency enables uniformity and strengthens both the integrity of racing and the safety of its human and equine athletes. In addition to the New York laboratory being eligible for Full Accreditation this fall, the Illinois laboratory will be eligible for accreditation by the winter. These accredited and soon-to-be accredited laboratories provide testing of samples for 29 racing states representing 78% of the U.S. Thoroughbred pari-mutuel handle.

“We’ve been pleased to see adoptions of all four components of the Program by numerous commissions across the country in the last year,” said Alex Waldrop, chairman of the RMTC and president and CEO of the NTRA. “However, it is absolutely imperative that the remaining 21 Thoroughbred racing commissions adopt the reforms in their entirely without further delay,” said Waldrop. “The RMTC and its expert staff and officers continually make themselves available to assist regulators and racing participants seeking to implement the Program in their state, and to further educate the industry on the critical components of this initiative. We must keep building on the momentum of this movement and fulfill our goal to see the complete adoption of the Program.”

The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing. The organization works to develop and promote uniform rules, policies and testing standards at the national level; coordinate research and educational programs that seek to ensure the integrity of racing and the health and welfare of racehorses and participants; and protect the interests of the racing public.