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Formula likely killed horses

AT the same time polo fans gathered to mourn 21 prized horses that died before a championship match, they learned that a wrongly mixed supplement was likely to blame for their deaths.

The fans returned to the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida, in the United States, on Thursday for a memorial ceremony and a US Open match when the word spread about a Florida pharmacy's role in mixing the supplement used to help horses fight exhaustion.

Club manager Jimmy Newman said learning about the mistake was a relief to the polo community after several days of speculation.

"It's a terrible, terrible thing and it's not going to bring those 21 horses back," he said. "But at least it's down to a simple mistake. It's not sabotage and it's not anything that anyone in polo planned to do."

The Venezuela-based Lechuza polo team had hoped to get a compound similar to a name-brand supplement used safely around the world but which hasn't been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Veterinarians commonly turn to compounding pharmacies for medications that can't be found on shelves, but the dispensaries can only recreate unapproved drugs in limited circumstances.

The pharmacy that mixed the concoction said that the strength of one of the ingredients was incorrect. Jennifer Beckett, chief operating officer for Franck's Pharmacy in Ocala, Florida, would not say whether the incorrect amount was specified in the order for the team that came from a Florida veterinarian.

Lechuza said the order was for a compound similar to Biodyl, a supplement that includes vitamins and minerals. The team said what they ordered was supposed to contain vitamin B, potassium, magnesium and selenium, a mineral that can be toxic in high doses.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is investigating the deaths.


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