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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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FDA Veterinarian Newsletter May/June 1999 Volume XIV, No III

Help is now available for horses diagnosed with gastric ulcers. The Center for Veterinary Medicine recently approved GastroGard™ (omeprazole) for the treatment and prevention of recurrence of gastric ulcers in horses and foals 4 weeks of age and older. GastroGard™ is produced and marketed by Merial Limited, and is available only by prescription.

Gastric ulcers are a common problem in horses, especially in foals and horses in stressful environments, e.g., race horses. Today’s horses are expected to adapt to lifestyles far different from their natural habitats, specifically confinement, intensive competition, changes in diet, etc. As with people, individual animals handle stress in different ways, but ulcers may be extremely debilitating, and can affect a horse’s performance and attitude. Most horses do not manifest symptoms of ulcers, but if neglected, ulcers can cause constant discomfort or even colic, a potentially fatal condition. Stress is considered the major cause of ulcers, but certain anti-inflammatory drugs may also contribute to the onset of this condition.

Veterinarians can diagnose ulcers using gastric endoscopy. The recommended treatment regimen for GastroGard™ is once-a-day for 28 days. The drug is administered as an oral paste in a calibrated syringe. Safety of the drug in pregnant or lactating mares has not been determined.

Omeprazole is marketed for humans under the tradename Prilosec® and is indicated for short-term treatment of duodenal and gastric ulcers. In addition, it is approved for the short-term (4 - 8 weeks) treatment of erosive esophagitis and of symptomatic gastro-esophageal reflux disease.