Phenylbutazone use in horses

Read about restrictions on using phenylbutazone in horses.

Advice for veterinarians 

Phenylbutazone is listed as a restricted substance as a result of the European Union (EU) ban imposed some time ago on its use in food-producing animals. MPI is required to manage risks to trade in primary produce, as per the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997. As part of our approach to risk management, we consider how we should manage substances that have been banned in our major trading markets.

The issue of the use of such products in horses is very much related to the definition of horses as food-producing animals. However, it is clear that a large number of horses in New Zealand will never enter the food chain and will remain companion or sport horses until their destruction.

Indications received by MPI are that, despite there being a number of alternative anti-inflammatory products available for use in horses, phenylbutazone remains a drug of preference for many. The option however remains for any individual veterinarian to not prescribe phenylbutazone.

In the interim, MPI is advising vets that the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) proposal is likely to be an acceptable solution. Indications received from the EU are that veterinarians there are using this advice.

MPI's position is that, provided horses are not intended to be food-producing animals, phenylbutazone may be used to treat them (as per the FVE proposal). Veterinarians are still expected to advise animal owners of the EU ban if there is a reasonable likelihood that the animal(s) will enter the food chain.

MPI is not yet aware that the EU has reached any firm conclusions on the FVE proposal. We will advise as soon as there is formal word on any changes to the ban.

Last reviewed: