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The Orders and Rules of Racing

BHA Notices Section


Anti-Ulcer Medication in horses - Use of

The Equine Science and Welfare Department of the British Horseracing Authority would like to draw the attention of Trainers to an important issue relating to anti-ulcer medication - in particular, ranitidine. Complementary information with added veterinary detail has also been made available to veterinary surgeons.

Through on going screening at HFL, and a number of positive tests post race, we are aware that Trainers, advised by their veterinary surgeons, are using ranitidine to prevent and treat gastric ulcers syndrome in their horses (it may be called as such in generic preparation, or by its trade name, for example 'Zantac'). This drug is a preparation for treatment of humans - it is neither intended nor licensed for horses in Great Britain. Whilst veterinary surgeons can prescribe drugs intended for use in other species where there is no alternative, in this case there are other preparations available as licensed horse medicines which make the use of ranitidine subject to the need for justification and veterinary surgeons must obtain written consent from the Trainer to use ranitidine. Importantly the Authority has published a Detection Time for a licensed veterinary medication containing the anti-ulcer drug omeprazole, and details can be found on the Authority's website. Non-medical approaches to managing gastric ulcers in horses should also be borne in mind.

There is very little available information about excretion time of ranitidine in horses; what there is indicates that under certain circumstances it can be detected for at least 18 days in urine and probably considerably longer. On top of this lack of information, the problem of trying to understand how it is handled by the horse is particularly difficult because:

1. It is usually given by mouth (tablets, paste or syrup) which, particularly with the horses' complex digestive system, results in very variable metabolism.

2. In using human tablets etc, they are given 'word of mouth' doses and in very variable forms, e.g. being broken up and mixed with water and given by syringe, which makes absorption and subsequent metabolism and excretion even harder to predict.

In the light of this it is recommended that extreme care is exercised in any use of ranitidine in horses in training; as with any prohibited substance, ranitidine must not be detectable on raceday.

If Trainers are in any doubt as to whether a horse is clear to race, they are invited to contact Tim Morris (Director of Equine Science and Welfare) or Lynn Hillyer (Veterinary Advisor) on 0207 152 0090 for advice and/or possible facility for Elective Testing.