Columbus, OH --- In the Paulick Report’s “The Breeders’ Cup Forum: Lasix – A Racetrack Practitioner’s Perspective” (March 7, 2013), Dr. Don Shields, who has been a practicing veterinarian at Southern California racetracks for more than 25 years, makes a compelling argument for the use of furosemide (Lasix) to treat horses for exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) in both training and racing.
In the Q & A interview with Paulick, Dr. Shields cites landmark research (2009 study by Drs. Hinchcliff, Morley and Guthrie) that identified furosemide as the only proven medication to decrease the incidence and severity of EIPH and states that, “medically speaking, it is far better to prevent injury and pathology than to try to heal it.”
At the 2012 USTA annual meetings in March, the organization adopted a policy that allows for the race-day administration of furosemide.
“After a year of careful review and study of extensive scientific data as well as analyzing both the pro and con positions espoused by other industry leaders, the USTA Board of Directors determined this policy,” said SOA of NY President and USTA Director Joe Faraldo, who spearheaded the organization’s discussions and authored the policy statement in March 2012.
During the Standardbred industry’s annual congress in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., last weekend, the USTA Board of Director’s Regulatory Committee, chaired by Faraldo, reaffirmed the organization’s policy on Lasix.
In the official policy statement, the USTA explained the reasons for the decision stating that, “after much study and examination, and after hearing from renowned veterinarians from all over the world, the U.S. Trotting Association believes that the most humane way to address this problem is through the continued approval of the race-day administration of furosemide under controlled conditions and by a licensed veterinarian.”
“We decided upon a policy that we thought was best even though it wasn’t the most popular position at the time,” added USTA President Phil Langley. “We still believe that it is what is best for the horses and racing.”
Also in his interview, Dr. Shields explains that the effects of a race-day ban of Lasix are already well known.
“We do not need to guess at what the possible impact to our equine athletes might be,” said Dr. Shields. “The study by Drs. Hinchcliff, Morley and Guthrie clearly demonstrates that more horses will bleed more severely without the administration of furosemide. In this study, twice as many horses did not bleed at all when they were treated with furosemide.”
In addition, Dr. Shields posed questions to those who argue that horses in other jurisdictions train on Lasix but are not allowed to race on it.
“If furosemide is medically beneficial to a horse during training,” asks Dr. Shields, “is it not just as medically beneficial during racing? Why is it morally, ethically and medically justifiable to allow injury to occur to our magnificent equine athletes when we know how to significantly lessen or prevent that injury?”
To read the entire interview with Dr. Shields at the Paulick Report, click here.
To read the USTA’s complete policy statement on furosemide, click here.