'Nobody's Going To Want To Practice In California': Backstretch Veterinary Regulations Remain Unclear In Wake Of Blea Investigation - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘Nobody’s Going To Want To Practice In California’: Backstretch Veterinary Regulations Remain Unclear In Wake Of Blea Investigation

Dr. Jeff Blea has returned to his position as the equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board after a controversial eight-month suspension enforced by the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB), but according to the Thoroughbred Daily News, controversy remains between the VMB and backstretch veterinary practitioners across the state.

The complaints against Blea and other backstretch veterinarians have been “very unusual,” American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) executive director David Foley told the TDN.

“If the veterinary medical board is going to interpret the rules in a companion animal manner towards equine practitioners, nobody's going to want to practice in California,” Foley said.

In January's meeting of the VMB, Dan Baxter, executive director of the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), voiced the organization's concern about whether VMB regulations are in touch with business practices: “We fear that there may be a significant disconnect between the reasonable, sound practice standards observed by equine practitioners in the field and the standards to which those same practitioners are being held by the board.”

Despite ongoing meetings between the VMB's two-person Equine Practice Subcommittee, the CVMA, and the CHRB, there remains little clarity for or licensed backstretch practitioners.

Among the primary discrepancies is the use of compounded medications.

CHRB Rule 1867 (b) states that “the possession and/or use on the premises of a facility under the jurisdiction of the Board of any drug, substance or medication that has not been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States.” The CHRB's “longstanding interpretation” of rule 1867 “is that lawfully prescribed, compounded medications which are manufactured according to Federal and State guidelines do not violate this regulation.”

Conversely, the VMB interprets the rule to prohibit the use of compounded drugs entirely, even those compounded from FDA-approved parent drugs.

Monica Vargas, spokesperson for the VMB, told the TDN that while the VMB “cannot advise on CHRB enforcement of laws applicable to their licensees,” the VMB has jurisdiction over the practice of veterinary medicine in California “unless otherwise pre-empted.” Pre-emption could come in the form of the federally-enacted Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, but HISA has not yet involved itself in the dispute and those practitioners already facing complaints remain stranded.

Read more at the Thoroughbred Daily News.

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