The British Horseracing Authority has today announced a detection time for omeprazole, an equine anti-ulcer medication, for the first time.
Horses do suffer from gastric ulcers, and Equine Gastric Ulceration Syndrome in horses is recognised as a complex and
multifactorial condition, with factors triggering its occurrence ranging from the horse’s individual temperament and predisposition through to feed and turnout.
Whilst gastric ulcers in hosres can be managed through attention to feed and husbandry, judicious use of omeprazole, a veterinary drug which is licensed for treatment in horses, following veterinary diagnosis and under clinical direction, is sometimes required.
However due to the requirement for racehorses to run free from the effect of any drugs, advice on timing for medication withdrawal is needed. Trainers’ have expressed concerns that the welfare of their horses is diminished by the absence of such a Detection Time for omeprazole. Detection Times are not withdrawal times, veterinary surgeons add a safety factor produce a longer withdrawal time to account for variations between horses and other factors.
Studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance. Through our membership of the European Horseracing Scientific Committee (EHSLC), the Authority have therefore worked to ensure the published information on omeprazole and its persistence after treatment, has been used to determine a harmonized Detection Time across the member countries of the EHSLC. A detection time of 72 hours for the specific licensed veterinary product that is available in Europe, (Gastrogard 37% Oral Paste for Horses, Merial). at a dose of 1mg/kg for 28 days has now been recommended by the EHSLC and was ratified by the Authority’s board on 17th May.
Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, said: “Medication control in horseracing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised Detection Time for omeprazole available as soon as we could. ”