The Penn Vet Equine Pharmacology Laboratory works closely with the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory (PETRL), which performs equine drug testing for racetracks in the Commonwealth. Dr. Mary Robinson is its acting director.
The PETRL group has developed methods to identify and quantify a large number of drugs in horse blood or urine, and drug analyses performed at PETRL total some 35,000 samples per year. PETRL continues to develop novel methods for screening, confirming, and quantifying the presence of illegal drugs in race horse plasma or urine samples.
Research in equine pharmacology is performed at New Bolton Center, also the site of Penn Vet’s large animal hospital. The Equine Pharmacology Laboratory’s close proximity to the hospital promotes collaborative research with Penn Vet’s clinical scientists and residents. Studies are performed to optimize clinical therapy for diseases commonly affecting race horses, and to determine the length of time needed following treatment before the horse can safely and ethically return to racing. The identification of biomarkers to monitor disease progression, and the effects of drug treatment on biomarkers, are also being pursued.
Because of the strong longstanding support from the PA Racing Commissions, the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen Association, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, the Pennsylvania Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association, and the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen Association, the Penn Vet/PETRL group has been able to provide leadership in drug testing research.
The Penn Vet-PETRL mission is to provide accurate information to policy makers and enforcers, veterinarians, and horsemen on therapeutic and non-therapeutic drug use in race horses to help ensure the integrity of the sport, and more importantly the welfare of the horse during those intense and exciting two minutes of competition.