According to a story written by John Cherwa, as a special contributor to The Los Angeles Times, the California Horse Racing Board’s equine medical director is now “under suspicion” from another California state agency — the Veterinary Medical Board.
In the story, Cherwa gives details how Dr. Jeff Blea — who just so happens to be in charge of the investigation into the death of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit — has been served a 27-page “accusation” by the state Veterinary Medical Board.
That document was served to Blea on Dec. 17, and, according to Cherwa, alleges that the Medical Director violated several state regulations in the year prior to being named equine medical director this past July 1.
“The investigation started in February after the VMB received an anonymous tip that Blea and other veterinarians prescribed and gave medications without examinations or medical necessity. Veterinarians Vince Baker and Sarah Graybill Jones also were issued complaints. Among the drugs named in Blea’s complaint was thyroxine, a thyroid hormone supplement whose use in horses has been controversial. The CHRB was not aware of the VMB investigation into Blea.”
“The Pressbox” has confirmed that an emergency hearing has been scheduled for Friday to determine whether Blea’s license should be temporarily suspended. There is nothing in the law that says the California equine medical director must have a veterinary license.
According to Cherwa, Blea has refused to comment on the “accusations” or the investigation.
Chrewa does quote Scott Chaney, the Executive Director of the California Horse Racing Board:
“I have known and worked with Dr. Blea for more than 20 years, and during that time I have never met a veterinarian more committed to caring for horses,” said Chaney. “From my perspective, he has always displayed high ethical standards. In short, he has dedicated his life to the protection and promotion of animal welfare. I look forward to Dr. Blea continuing to serve the CHRB and the horse-racing industry during the due process phase of this matter.”
- Negligence for prescribing, dispensing or administering a drug or medicine without examining a horse or forming a diagnosis. The complaint cites six horses he treated. The horses are not named, but identified by initials. All the allegations involve the same set of horses.
- Dispensing dangerous drugs without medical necessity involving six horses. Despite the “dangerous” label, most of the drugs are commonly used, such as Lasix and vitamins.
- Failure to establish veterinarian-client-patient relationship involving three horses. An example listed was performing an endoscopic exam without documenting an examination of the horse or communicating the treatment with the trainer or owner.
- Violation of the practice act and board regulations in regard to recordkeeping in the case of six horses. It cited a failure to note such information as age, sex, breed and color of a horse as well as medication, diagnosis and prognosis.
- Use of misbranded drugs, in one case involving Thyroxine L powder, which is not FDA approved.
- Possession or use of prohibited drugs in 10 cases. Five of the cases involve aspirin powder, which is not FDA approved for veterinary patients.
- Failure to provide required drug consultation in eight cases. It cited instances where the medical record failed to note the required consultation for usage of the drug.
- Improper recordkeeping in one case of anesthesia. The charge cited that the record did not document a required examination 12 hours before administering a general anesthesia.
Stay tuned. More is sure to come.