DEFRA and the Food Standards Agency are reminding veterinary surgeons that phenylbutazone (Equipalazone® and ProDynam®), and therefore its prodrug suxibuzone (Danilon®), cannot be used in animals intended for human consumption.   The letter is attached here The number of horses being slaughtered for human consumption has almost doubled over the last three years, and represents approximately 1 percent of the UK horse population. Therefore vets must not ignore the significant number of horses that do enter the food chain each year.


Whenever prescribing phenylbutazone or suxibuzone vets must ensure that part II of section IX of the horse passport is signed to exclude the horse from the food chain. If the passport is not available it may be preferable to use a NSAID where maximum residue limits are known.  Alternatively in an emergency situation veterinary surgeons should use the following form Emergency-treatment-form-no-passport.pdf to ensure that owners understand their responsibilities.  A copy of this instruction, signed by the owners, should be kept.  Vets are advised to keep blank copies of this form handy.


All medications must be recorded in part III of section IX in horses unless the declaration that the horse is not intended for human consumption has been signed. Where horses are being treated in an emergency setting the owner must be provided with detailed information about what drugs have been administered and should sign to indicate they understand the need to record these in the horses passport (as per the form described above).  


Defra and the VMD, alongside BEVA have developed guidelines and leaflets which describe the requirements for veterinary surgeons and horse keepers regarding administration of medicines to horses.  Copies of the Guidance Notes are available at: VMGNote16.pdf and Copies of the leaflet are available at: leaflet_horses.pdf


Vets are reminded that when dispensing oral phenylbutazone and suxibuzone owners should be informed that the drug must not be administered to other horses; indeed to do so is an offence. Appropriate quantities of the drug should be dispensed or prescribed to prevent misuse.


Due to recent publicity surrounding this issue ALL carcasses are now being tested for phenylbutazone residues. DEFRA and the FSA have indicated a desire to prosecute individuals who ignore the Horse Passport regulations.


The Equine Passport and VMD Regulations exist to protect public health and ensure that veterinary medication continues to be available