Bisphosphonates are substances that can be used in horses to treat certain bone diseases e.g. osteoarthritis and navicular syndrome. They act by preventing bone degradation and provide very effective analgesia. Inappropriate use of these substances can prevent bone repair and lead to an increased risk of fractures and catastrophic injuries.
The two most commonly used products are Tildren and Osphos which are licensed for use in the horse. Other products are available however these are not licensed for use in the horse.
Bisphosphonates as Prohibited Substances
Tildren and Osphos are listed on the Equine Prohibited Substances List as Controlled Medication since they are licensed products with performance affecting properties and their use in everyday veterinary practice is widely acknowledged.
As of 1 January 2019, the bisphosphonate products that do not carry a license (i.e. Pamidronate, Neridronate, Olpadronate, Alendronate, Ibandronate, Risedronate, Zoledronate) will be listed as Banned Substances. As a result of this change, the FEI has received concerns from the equestrian community about the potential for horses testing positive in 2019 resulting from use of these substances during 2018.
Decisions taken by the FEI
In view of the concerns from the equestrian community, the FEI has decided to maintain the listing of Pamidronate, Neridronate, Olpadronate, Alendronate, Ibandronate, Risedronate, Zoledronate as Banned Substance during 2019 but these substances will not become prohibited until 1 January 2020. The delay in implementation will therefore 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 commence in January 2019 concerning the use of these substances in clinical cases of non-FEI horses. The aim of the study is to determine substance elimination times and the lowest concentrations of these substances that could result in a positive test.
2019 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods for Human Athletes
Proposed Changes to the FEI Equine Prohibited Substances List for 2018
Updates to FEI Equine Prohibited Substances List and WADA Prohibited List for Human Athletes