Pharmacy admits incorrect mix in medication given to polo horses

By Calvin Palmer

A pharmacy in Florida today admitted that it incorrectly mixed a medication that was given to 21 polo horses that died on Sunday at the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Jennifer Beckett, chief operations officer for Franck’s Pharmacy, in Ocala, said in a written statement that an internal investigation revealed that the strength of an ingredient in the medication was flawed.

Neither the medication nor the ingredient was named in the statement.

It added: “We will cooperate fully with the authorities as they continue their investigations. Because of the ongoing investigations, we cannot discuss further details about this matter at this time.”

Venezuelan multi-millionaire Victor Vargas who owns the Lechuza Caracas team, and the 21 horses, suspects the team’s veterinarian may have played a role in the deaths.

Philadelphia attorney William Gericke, representing an insurance company for Quorum Management, states in a letter to Dr James Belden that the company’s investigation revealed Biodyl was administered to 12 polo ponies before a match in the U.S. Open Polo Championship on Sunday.

The Vargas-owned Quorum Management owns 12 of the polo horses that died.

Gericke states that Belden ordered the compound from Franck’s Pharmacy in Tallahassee.

“Since you ordered the Biodyl from Franck’s Pharmacy that was administered to the horses, I believe there may be a possibility that my client may look to you as a party who has some responsibility for the loss,” he wrote.

Gericke asks Belden to “preserve any and all quantities so we may have it tested”.

Biodyl emerged as a possible cause of the deaths when captain of the Lechuza Caracas team, Juan Martín Nero, told Argentine newspaper La Nacion Biodyl was given to the horses on Sunday to help them recover from exhaustion.

Biodyl a French vitamin supplement is banned in the United States.

Belden was unavailable for comment. He is one of the team’s vets working under Argentine veterinarian Felix Crespo.

University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, which is conducting the necropsies of the 21 horses, is still awaiting the results of toxicology tests to determine what caused the death of the horses.

Mark Fagan, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Agriculture which is investigating the deaths, said he was unaware of any investigation by an insurance agency.

Determining whether Biodyl played a role in the horses’ deaths is complicated because many of the ingredients in it are also found in legal compounds, he said.

[Based on a report by The Palm Beach Post.]

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