Third-Party Lasix Clears Final Hurdle in California

By Jeremy Balan
June 2, 2017-A nearly five-year effort to require the third-party administration of furosemide (Lasix) in California came to fruition June 2, when the state's Office of Administrative Law signed off on a proposal the California Horse Racing Board approved in April.

According to a CHRB statement, the policy of administering racehorses Lasix by independent veterinarians is "expected" to be fully implemented by Dec. 26.

When third-party Lasix administration is fully implemented in California, it will move the state in line with 20 other racing states and with rules recommended by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and Association of Racing Commissioners International.

According to the CHRB statement, a process to set up the implementation of the new policy has begun.

"Now begins the process of instituting agreements, policies, and procedures at all operating racetracks in the state that will not only prohibit private, practicing veterinarians employed by trainers and owners for the care of their horses from administering race-day medication, but also place that responsibility on independent veterinary professionals who otherwise have no business affiliation with those owners and trainers," the statement said.

Over the years proposals seeking to implement the third-party administration of Lasix have hit roadblocks with the CHRB, including a 2015 action that sent a proposal back to committee. The CHRB passed another proposal for third-party Lasix in 2016, but it did not clear the OAL.

"We are pleased with the final resolution of this medication issue," said Mary Forney, executive director of the Thoroughbred Owners of California. "The TOC has worked with the CHRB for several years to develop acceptable protocols for third-party Lasix administration. We have consistently supported the national uniform medication guidelines, which allow for pre-race, third-party administration of Lasix, a therapeutic medication that has been consistently shown to decrease the incidence and severity of (exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage)."

"Third-party Lasix is a policy The Stronach Group and our horsemen have supported, to ensure integrity and transparency for all horses competing in California," said Joe Morris, The Stronach Group's senior vice president of West Coast operations. The Stronach Group owns and operates the main racetracks in each region of the state, Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita Park.

Also in the CHRB statement was a list of "other requirements of the new rules."

Those requirements include:

    Trainers, owners, and practicing veterinarian will be required to consult with the third-party Lasix veterinarian to determine the appropriate dosage of Lasix for each horse. However, the maximum permitted amount of Lasix will remain unchanged at 150-500mg of furosemide by (intravenous) injection.
    The policy requiring horses receiving Lasix to be on the grounds five hours prior to racing is now required by regulation.
    Horses receiving Lasix will be assigned a pre-race security stall. The policy requiring signage identifying a horse is running on Lasix is now a regulation and such signage must be in place eight hours prior to racing.
    Trainers are required to maintain or have maintained constant care, custody, control, and constant view of horses in their pre-race security stalls. Language has been included clarifying that the trainer or a licensed employee of the trainer is required to be present and sign the bleeder treatment report written by the person administering the medication.
    Third-party Lasix services will be contracted through the horsemen-(racing) association agreement and all costs are to be paid, as now, by the owners.
    Language has been included, as requested by the California Veterinary Medical Board, defining conditions necessary for the third-party Lasix veterinarian to meet CVMB veterinary-client-patient relationship requirements.
    The rules require the Lasix syringe to be securely stored by the CHRB and made available for testing by the (CHRB) in the event of an adverse drug finding.
    The rules include language on procedures for the Lasix veterinarian to deal with medical emergencies.