The FEI has tweaked its plans to ban the range of bisphosphonates that are unlicensed for use in horses amid concerns that residues from their use to treat bone disorders might result in positive tests in the months ahead.
Bisphosphonates are a class of drugs that prevent the loss of bone density. They can be used in horses to treat conditions such as osteoarthritis and navicular syndrome. They act by preventing bone degradation and provide very effective analgesia.
However, their inappropriate use can stymie bone repair and lead to an increased risk of fractures and catastrophic injuries.
The two most commonly used products are Tildren and Osphos, both of which are licensed for use in horses. Other products are available but not licensed for use in the horse.
Tildren and Osphos are listed on the Equine Prohibited Substances List as a controlled medication since they are licensed products with performance-affecting properties and their use in everyday veterinary practice is widely acknowledged.
From January 1, 2019, the bisphosphonate products that do not carry a license for horses (that is, Pamidronate, Neridronate, Olpadronate, Alendronate, Ibandronate, Risedronate, Zoledronate) will be listed as banned substances.
However, the FEI received feedback from the equestrian community about the potential for horses to test positive in 2019 arising from the use of these substances during 2018.
The FEI has considered the argument and decided to maintain the listing of Pamidronate, Neridronate, Olpadronate, Alendronate, Ibandronate, Risedronate, Zoledronate as banned substances during 2019, but they will not become prohibited until January 1, 2020.
The delay in implementation will allow adequate clearance time of the drug from the horse’s body, following use of these substances during 2018.
Further to this decision, a study will begin next month concerning the use of these substances in clinical cases in non-FEI-registered horses. The aim is to learn more about elimination times and the lowest concentrations of these substances that could result in a positive test.