Pemoline is a central nervous system stimulant that has been used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy in humans; its identification in horses could be considered evidence of attempts to influence performance. Two recent pemoline 'positives' in English racehorses led us to review the chemical relationships between tetramisole, levamisole, aminorex and pemoline. Pemoline is a simple oxidation product of aminorex, which has been shown in the United States and elsewhere to be an equine metabolite of levamisole. Based on the clear structural relationships between aminorex and pemoline, we conclude that levamisole can metabolise to pemoline in horses and that pemoline identifications in horses post levamisole administration are likely to be associated with levamisole administration. Levamisole should not be administered to horses about to compete because of its ability to metabolise to two central nervous system stimulants, aminorex and pemoline.

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Published in Irish Veterinary Journal, v. 63, no. 8, article no. 498, p. 498-500.

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Published as Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station Article # 10-14-023 with the approval of the Dean and Director, College of Agriculture and the Kentucky Agricultural Experimental Station.