Louisiana vet charged with plot to drug horses

Friday, February 17, 2017

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BATON ROUGE, La (AP) — A Louisiana veterinarian has been charged with engaging in a scheme to influence the outcome of horse races by illegally treating the animals with a synthetic version of a drug known as "frog juice."


The federal indictment accuses the veterinarian, Kyle James Hebert, of providing trainers with syringes of dermorphin to inject the painkiller in at least four horses that competed at Louisiana racetracks. The indictment returned by a grand jury in the Western District of Louisiana says Hebert told trainers that the mislabelled drug would make the horses "focus" and run faster.


Dermorphin, an opioid roughly 30 times more potent than morphine, is naturally secreted by tree frogs native to South America. The US Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved any drug containing dermorphin for use in humans or animals.


Hebert’s company, Southern Equine Sports Medicine, operated veterinary clinics in Lake Charles and Sunset. The indictment charges him and an Omaha, Nebraska-based company, Kohll’s Pharmacy & Healthcare Inc, with conspiracy.


Hebert is licensed to practise veterinary medicine at racetracks by the Louisiana State Racing Commission. In 2012 the commission sanctioned nine trainers whose horses tested positive for dermorphin.


One of the sanctioned trainers told the commission that Hebert gave drugs to his horses and had claimed they were "human herbs that would boost metabolism and help them breathe a bit", according to a Times-Picayune report in September 2012.

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