By T. D. Thornton
By unanimous voice vote, the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) tweaked and re-proposed a rule Feb. 27 regarding the use of multiple non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) before horse races in order to eliminate the practice known as “stacking” of those medications while still allowing a second NSAID to be used if it is administered at least 96 hours prior to post time.
According to a brief written by NYSGC general counsel Edmund Burns that was included in the informational packet for Monday's meeting, “current NYSGC rules specifically permit the use of six NSAIDs if administered prior to 48 hours before a race. The commission also has adopted the four national regulatory thresholds for NSAIDs. All other NSAIDs are impermissible within one week of racing. The pending rulemaking proposal [that had been] published in the Nov. 9, 2016, State Register, was intended to disallow the use of more than one NSAID within one week of racing, as NSAIDs can be administered in combinations that increase the potency and duration of effect of the drugs.”
Yet after considering comments from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association that expressed concern about the prohibition on using more than one NSAID for one week before a race, NYSGC staffers have decided that in some cases, it may be beneficial to the health of a horse to administer a second NSAID during the week before racing.
According to Burns's brief, “the comments further suggest that the proposed rules [that had been published Nov. 9] would put New York out of step with other jurisdictions that remedy NSAID stacking by establishing a second set of thresholds lower than the national thresholds for NSAIDs that were widely adopted (including by New York) in 2014. The Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) model rule also permits unlimited NSAIDs to be administered in preparation for upcoming races. This has resulted in an unintended consequence: administering different NSAIDs at 72, 48 and 24 hours before races.
“Furthermore, the ARCI model rule has no thresholds for many NSAIDs that could be stacked before racing. The ARCI model rule has no restrictions on the use of NSAIDs for which ARCI has not yet adopted a threshold. Accordingly, while recommending that another NSAID be permitted within one week before racing, commission staff does not recommend what it believes is a deficient ARCI model rule.”
In revamping the proposal, NYSGC staff conferred with Dr. George A. Maylin, Director of the New York Drug Testing and Research Program. The Burns brief stated: “As a laboratory director with more than 40 years of experience at inferring times of administration (assuming a clinical dose) of drugs, Dr. Maylin advised that a 96-hour restricted time period would be more enforceable than a 72-hour one (which was considered), given the state of knowledge about such thresholds. The 96-hour restricted period for a second NSAID would prevent stacking while allowing the use of more than one NSAID in the week before racing and provide trainers with the assurance that compliance with the restricted time periods will prevent a drug positive.”
Therefore, the summation of the new NYSGC recommendation authored by Burns now reads as follows:
“There are circumstances in which a second NSAID might be useful to provide veterinary care. This revision would allow such veterinary care to be given closer to race day while still meeting the objectives of the pending rule-making proposal. The revision would also be consistent with other jurisdictions' rules. Provided a second NSAID cannot be used within 96 hours of the scheduled post time of the race, a person could still not combine NSAIDs in sub-clinical doses to conceal the administration of both substances within 48 hours before the horse's race. The rule would also prevent an adverse effect on the horse on race day based on the synergy of combined NSAID administrations. In addition, the overuse of NSAIDs aggressively to prepare a horse for racing would be restricted by the use of only two NSAIDs during the week before racing.”
The new rule language that got advanced on Monday must be re-published in the State Register and pass another 30-day public comment period. At the earliest, it could come up for a final vote at the NYSGC meeting tentatively scheduled for Apr. 24.