Medication use in racehorses and its perception by the public was a key theme in two of three acceptance speeches given Sept. 28 at the Thoroughbred Club of America's 83rd Testimonial Dinner honoring the lifetime contributions of veterinarians Edward Fallon, DVM; Gary Lavin, VMD; and Larry Bramlage, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS.

Both Lavin and Bramlage tackled today's sticky issue of medication use in racehorses in their acceptance speeches.

With the introduction of the oral anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone, Lavin said the "medication clouds" over racing began to form.

"The medication rules in Kentucky at the time were quite simple—no stimulants, no depressants, no local anesthetics, or any product that interfered in the testing laboratory," Lavin said. "Therefore, in the avalanche of steroids, hormones, and synthetic medications, the use of these products became extremely popular. Used properly, and I emphasize properly, they were therapeutic in purpose and very effective as such. The abuse of the same became a serious burden on the industry. We have recovered somewhat, but much more needs to be achieved. A positive test for banned substances should be subject to federal prosecution. Swift results and severe penalties most certainly would be a monumental deterrent."

Bramlage followed with the strongest words of the evening regarding the use of race-day furosemide (marketed as Salix), a medication used to prevent and treat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging.

"I believe furosemide is valuable to the horse when racing, but there are too many reasons we can't keep it," said the renowned