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Cheryl from Washington, writes:

Dear Dr. Dave,

So what can you tell me about the use of Pentosan in equines? I am told it is being used instead of Adequan. In humans, it is not advised in anyone who has bleeding issues or upcoming surgery. How would that impact the performance horse if there is already an EIPH issue? Thanks!

Dear Cheryl,

Thank you for a great question regarding the use of Pentosan in horses. I have not had any personal experience with Pentosan, but let's look at an overview of the product.

Pentosan"s full name is Pentosan Polysulfate (PPS) and has been primarily used in Australia and New Zealand for several years. It is an extract from the Beechwood plant and is considered to be a concentrated anti-inflammatory and stimulant of cartilage synthesis, repair, and protection. Basically Pentosan is used in the long term management of osteoarthritic (OA) joints in horses.

Dr. McIlwraith of Colorado State University headed up a study comparing Pentosan with Adequan in controlling OA pain in experimentally induced carpal chips in horses. They found it to be more effective and longer lasting than Adequan as prescribed.

Although possibly available through pharmaceutical compounders, Pentodan is currently not a FDA approved veterinary product in the United States.

Pentosan is a sulfated heparinoid compound so it does have some anti-coagulant effects. It is contra-indicated in horses with clotting defects, traumatic bleeding, infection, liver or kidney failure, or within 48 hours of surgery. So in a performance horse with EIPH (exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage), I would consider it somewhat risky.

As a veterinary practitioner, I am typically slow to "jump on the band wagon" with new products, letting others forge into the experimental and unknown. I would rather be considered cautious than foolish.

In conclusion: Pentosan is not an approved veterinary product by the FDA in the United States, it has limited scientific study, and by its nature is not recommended for use in horses with bleeding disorders.

I hope this information has been useful for you.


Dr. Dave