Associated Press
The exterior of Lechuza Caracas Inc.

Pharmacy Admits Mistake in Polo Horse Tragedy

April 23, 2009 06:00 PM
by Kate Davey
A pharmacy incorrectly prepared the medication given to 21 polo horses that died before their polo match.

Only the Horses Given Medication Died

Five days after 21 Venezuelan polo horses died before a match at the U.S. Open Polo Championship in Florida, a pharmacy has admitted making an error in preparing a vitamin supplement administered to the horses.

On Thursday, April 23, Franck's Pharmacy in Ocala, Fla., released a statement announcing that after an investigation it had “concluded that the strength of an ingredient in the medication was incorrect. We will cooperate fully with the authorities as they continue their investigations.”

The Associated Press reports that the Lechuza polo team has also released a statement explaining that it had asked Franck's Pharmacy to create a compound similar to Biodyl, a vitamin supplement not approved in the U.S., which is used to treat exhaustion in animals. A Florida veterinarian wrote the prescription given to the pharmacy.

According to the statement from Lechuza, “Only horses treated with the compound became sick and died within 3 hours of treatment. Other horses that were not treated remain healthy and normal.”

Background: 21 prized polo horses die in front of fans

On Sunday, April 19, horses from the Lechuza Caracas team collapsed 45 minutes before their quarterfinal match against Black Watch. Although they were given immediate medical treatment, 21 horses died.

Even before Franck's Pharmacy's statement, some of the team players suspected that the Biodyl was to blame as the five horses that were not given the supplement are still alive.

Despite the pharmacy's admission, there are still some questions that need to be answered including why Biodyl was used and why the horses were given this supplement on the day of the match; one polo patron has stated that such supplements are not generally given on match day.

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