USEF: Phenibut Considered a Prohibited Substance

Phenibut, a derivative of gamma aminobutyric acid (or GABA), is found in some calming supplements.
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Tasked with protecting the welfare of equine athletes and ensuring the balance of competition, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Equine Drugs and Medications Program constantly monitors products and product claims. From time-to-time products appear on the equine supplement market making claims of their effects on the performance of horses in competition. USEF members are ultimately responsible for compliance with the forbidden substance policy, and encouraged to audit the ingredient lists of supplement products for substances prohibited in USEF competition.

Recently, a problematic substance has come to the attention of the USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Program. Phenibut (β-phenyl gamma aminobutyric acid) is considered a derivative of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), and effective immediately, phenibut, or any product containing phenibut (or β-phenyl gamma aminobutyric acid), is considered a forbidden substance under USEF rules. There are no current recognized medical uses for this substance; therefore reporting administration utilizing a Medication Report Form, pursuant to GR411, is not applicable.

The USEF said there have been a number of recent positive findings for β-phenyl gamma aminobutyric acid and members have been notified; this ingredient has been found in a product called Focus Calm, supplied by Uckele, USEF noted. Phenibut is also available as a single supplement in the United States, but is not considered a pharmaceutical. There are no known scientific studies documenting its safety in horses and there are no known legitimate therapeutic purposes for this substance to be used in the horse.

On Sept. 9, Uckele issued a statment indicating that the company had reformulated Focus Calm to exclude phenibut from the ingredients. The comany said Focus Calm was the only product they manufactured that contained phenibut

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