Anti inflammatory drugs such as Bute and Banamine can be very helpful when dealing with a situation like Freedom’s where we’re working to reduce the swelling in his leg. The downside is that these Cox-1 inhibitors can cause gastric ulcers.
As an alternative, horse owners are looking at drugs that inhibit Cox-2 pathways such as Equioxx, where the active ingredient is fibrocoxib. In clinical studies fibrocoxib showed fewer gastric side effects than the other NSAIDs (bute, banamine), which makes it preferable when using long term or in horses prone to gastic problems.
Unfortunately, Equioxx is expensive (about $9/dose) and comes as an oral paste. Anyone who has wormed their horse knows that dosing a paste can be messy and wasteful.
Which is why some people are looking long and hard at Previcox, the canine equivalent. Previcox comes in chewable tablets and at a fraction of the cost. A bottle of 60 57-mg tablets costs just $75 ($1.25/tablet). You can feed a tablet to your horse disguised in a treat or a handful of grain.
The problem is that Previcox for horses is an off-label usage, not because fibrocoxib hasn’t been tested in horses (it has) but because it is illegal to prescribe for horses because there is an equine approved form on the market. FDA regulations prevent off-label use of drugs when the same drug exists for that species.
I first learned about Previcox from a friend who is a vet. She had used it for her own horse when she needed long-term NSAIDs. I use Previcox for my elderly dog who is arthritic, so I had a supply on hand. Instead of putting Freedom on 10 days of Bute, I opted to dose Freedom with Previcox instead. Funnily enough the dosage for the typical horse is just 57 mg; the dosage for my dog (who weighs 30 lbs) is half of one of those tablets and most of the time I feed him just a quarter of a tab.
What do you think about the cost of drugs for horses? Do you feel that the drug companies are taking advantage of horse owners?
Do you think vets should be able to prescribe Previcox instead of Equioxx? Judging by equine bulletin boards it seems that many horse owners (and their vets) are already going this route.