Racing NSW advises that trainers and other thoroughbred racing industry participants should be aware of new Australian Rule of Racing 80E that becomes effective from 1 December 2005:
(1) Any person commits an offence if he has in his possession or on his premises any substance or preparation that has not been registered or labelled, or prescribed, dispensed or obtained, in compliance with the relevant State and Commonwealth legislation.
(2) The Stewards may take possession of any substance or preparation mentioned in subrule (1), and may use it as evidence in any relevant proceedings.'
In essence, this Rule makes it an offence for a trainer (or anyone else in charge of racehorses in training) to have in their possession unregistered veterinary chemical products or restricted prescription medicines (whether veterinary or human medicines) that have not been properly supplied.
Currently, national guidelines are being formulated by the Australian Racing Board's National Equine Integrity & Welfare Advisory Group (NEIWAG) and the National Chairmen of Stewards' Advisory Group (NCOSAG) to assist industry compliance with this new rule. The advice provided in this article is therefore interim advice for NSW industry participants until the proposed national guidelines are finalised.
Veterinary Medicines (or Veterinary Chemical Products)
This is a general term, meaning substances or mixtures of substances that are supplied or used for administration to an animal, by any means, as a way of:
• preventing, diagnosing, curing or alleviating a disease or condition in the animal or an infestation of the animal by a pest;
• curing or alleviating an injury suffered by the animal;
• modifying the physiology of the animal so as to alter its natural development, productivity, quality or reproductive capacity; or to make it more manageable; or
• modifying the effect of another veterinary chemical product.
Veterinary chemical products include prescription animal remedies (see below), as well as unrestricted products that are open-sellers that can be obtained from veterinarians or other sources. Veterinary chemical products which fulfil any of the above-listed criteria should be registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) and, accordingly, be sold with an APVMA registered label affixed to the product container and its packaging. Such labels always show an APVMA approval number in the following form: 50675/10/0705 (as an example).
Non-prescription veterinary chemical products used in racehorses include deworming preparations; vitamin, mineral and nutritional supplements (oral and injectable); vaccines; electrolytes; iron and other 'blood building' agents; and topical liniments.
It is therefore an offence under AR.80E for a trainer or other responsible person to have in his possession or on his premises any veterinary chemical product defined above that is not registered with the APVMA. Use contrary to label directions of these products is illegal under the NSW Stock Medicines Act. Where any such product is to be used off-label, written veterinary directions must be on hand to confirm such use has been authorised.
There is also a range of over-the-counter human medicines obtained from pharmacies and elsewhere that have been used to treat racehorses. As many of these medicines contain prohibited substances, extreme care must be exercised when using these products, and veterinary advice sought before any horse is treated with such products.
These include 'Prescription Animal Remedies' which are veterinary medicines included in poisons Schedule 4 that may only be supplied to, and must be prescribed by, a registered veterinarian in the practice of their profession for the treatment of animals. They also include 'Prescription Only Medicines' for humans which can also be prescribed or supplied by veterinarians for use in horses.
Prescription medicines (veterinary or human) used in racing stables must only be dispensed by a veterinarian or obtained from a pharmacy using a prescription supplied by a veterinarian. In addition to the registered label, all such prescription medicines must have attached to them a label from the veterinarian or pharmacist that contains as a minimum the following information:
• the name of the owner or person having custody of the animal,
• the horse's name or an accurate description of the animal to be treated,
• the date of supply,
• the name, address and telephone number of the dispensing/prescribing veterinarian,
• the approved and proprietary names of the drug dispensed,
• clear directions for use,
• the words 'KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN' in capital RED letters, and
• the words 'For animal treatment only' if the product is a human 'Prescription Only Medicine'.
The veterinarian's or pharmacist's label must be attached to the actual immediate container in which the preparation is supplied. For example, the vials of many brands of injectable prescription animal remedies are packaged in small cardboard boxes. For these products, the label must be attached to the bottle rather than the cardboard package. In situations where multiple bottles or containers of the same product are dispensed to the trainer, each bottle or container must have a label affixed to it.
Examples of prescription animal remedies include antibiotics, most anti-inflammatory drugs; corticosteroids (oral and injectable); bronchodilators, injectable local anaesthetics; topical skin preparations containing antibiotics and/or corticosteroids; tranquillisers and oral anabolic steroids.
It is therefore an offence under AR.80E for a trainer or other responsible person to have in his possession or on his premises any prescription medicine that is not properly supplied or is not labelled as described above.
Injectable Anabolic Steroids
Legislation placing restrictions on the supply of injectable anabolic steroids came into effect in 1998 by way of an Order under the NSW Stock Medicines Act.
This Order restricts the supply of injectable veterinary anabolic steroids or testosterone by veterinarians to other people in the community. This means that veterinarians cannot supply these substances to trainers, and horses requiring treatment with an injectable anabolic steroid must be injected by the veterinarian. Veterinarians are required to keep specific records of usage and account for all purchases, and all injectable anabolic steroids must be kept in a locked container.
Possession by trainers of injectable anabolic steroids or testosterone is an offence under the NSW Stock Medicines Act as well as according to AR.80E. Any horse requiring treatment with an injectable anabolic steroid must be treated by a veterinarian or by a person under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.
Use Care When Treating Horses
As a general reminder, trainers are urged to examine their stable medicine supplies for unregistered medicines, prescription medicines that are not properly labelled by a veterinarian, and medicines beyond their expiry date, and dispose of such products by returning them to their veterinarian or to the Racing NSW Official Veterinarian or Stewards. Trainers should consult with their veterinarian or with the Racing NSW Official Veterinarian if they are unsure as to whether a product is registered or not.
In any event, trainers should seek veterinary professional advice whenever racehorses are treated with any veterinary medicine or other preparation containing a prohibited substance.