Adequan® i.m. (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan): The Winning Formula for Champions

For optimum performance, a horse’s joints must be happy and healthy. Adequan® i.m. has been striving to meet this equine industry need for nearly 30 years.

Betsy Labelle and Audrey Bolte for AQHA Corporate Partner Adequan®

For the past 27 years and counting, Luitpold Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer of Adequan® i.m. (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan), has been dedicated to advancing joint health in the equine industry. Veterinarians and horse owners have depended on Adequan® i.m. to help improve joint function in the face of degenerative joint disease.

Adequan® is the only product approved by the FDA for the intramuscular treatment of non-infectious degenerative and/or traumatic joint dysfunction and associated lameness of the carpal and hock joints in horses.

Adequan® i.m. diminishes the destructive process, reverses the processes that result in the loss of cartilage components and improves overall joint function and associated lameness in degenerative joint disease.

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Proper equine joint function requires a precise and harmonious system of tissues that provide strength, stability and protection while affording a broad range of movement and flexibility. When in a balanced state, healthy joints provide an efficient mechanism to restore aged cells and stimulate repair in order to achieve minimal loss to essential joint cartilage. However, this ongoing joint “wear-and-repair” cycle in even the fittest of horses can become overwhelmed and insufficient when joints are overloaded from training, excessive use, athletic endeavors, weak conformation or imbalanced feet.

What is degenerative joint disease, or DJD?

This question may be asked when horse owners observe subtle behavioral or physical signs of joint discomfort, which can be manifested not only as lameness, but as sourness, poor performance, tail wringing or decrease in stride length. All of these signs in a horse can indicate that the DJD process has begun. DJD is defined as progressive deterioration of the articular cartilage in weight-bearing joints, accompanied by changes in bone and soft tissue.1 Cartilage is flexible living tissue composed primarily of water. Cartilage provides a smooth, lubricated surface within joints that reduces friction and disperses forces into underlying bone when joints are compressed during movement. Training and competition, or “wear and tear,” can take a toll on joint cartilage. Normally, loss of damaged cartilage is balanced by equal production of new cartilage, in a “wear and repair” cycle. However, in DJD, this balanced process is disrupted, and net loss of cartilage occurs. Degeneration of cartilage is initiated by inflammation in the joint, either from a single injury or chronic overuse. High-motion, weight bearing joints are most commonly affected in equine DJD, i.e. carpal and hock joints. These are joints that experience the most wear and tear during athletic movement and are thus most susceptible to injury.

Adequan® i.m. (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) impacts cartilage cells and improves cartilage health while alleviating lameness and joint dysfunction. Polysulfated glycosaminoglycan is a naturally occurring complex molecule that is an essential component of cartilage matrix, the supportive, load-bearing structure of cartilage that disperses forces within the joint. Adequan® i.m. stimulates cartilage cells (called chondrocytes) in production of new cartilage matrix, while inhibiting further loss.2 Adequan® i.m. is the only FDA-approved intramuscular polysulfated glycosaminoglycan. Extensive studies of Adequan® i.m. (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) have proven that it passes through the synovial membrane and is then absorbed into the articular cartilage.2 Studies confirm that the labeled dose of Adequan® i.m. achieves therapeutic levels in joints in two hours after the i.m. injection.2 * The correct labeled dose of Adequan® i.m. is 500 mg every four days for 28 days (encompassing seven total injections) in the muscle.

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It is important to adhere to the recommended dosage for maximal benefit. Labeled dosing every four days (or 96 hours) for 28 days enables the joint articular cartilage to achieve and maintain therapeutic levels of the drug. In summary, understanding how equine DJD occurs and when to consult your veterinarian is paramount to success in outcome. Consult your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your horse that may signal the onset of DJD, and discuss whether Adequan® i.m. is right for your horse. For more information on Adequan®, visit

Adequan® i.m.: For the intramuscular treatment of non-infectious degenerative and/or traumatic joint  dysfunction and associated lameness of the carpal and hock joints in horses. There are no known contraindications to the use of intramuscular Adequan® i.m. brand Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan in horses. Studies have not been conducted to establish safety in breeding horses. WARNING: Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. Not for use in humans. Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children. CAUTION: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.

This is a paid advertisement by Luitpold Pharmaceuticals, Inc. maker of Adequan®. Betsy Labelle was operating under contract for Luitpold. Audrey Bolte, Associate Brand Manager, is an employee of Luitpold Pharmaceuticals Inc. Images provided by Luitpold Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Technical Edits: Dr. Marian G. Little, Technical Services Veterinarian, Luitpold Pharmaceuticals Inc.


    1. McIlwraith CW, Frisbie DD, Kawcak CE, van Weeren PR. Joint Disease in the Horse. Louis, MO: Elsevier, 2016; 33-48.
    1. Burba DJ, Collier MA, Default LE, Hanson-Painton O, Thompson HC, Holder CL: In vivo kinetic study on uptake and distribution of intramuscular tritium-labeled polysulfated glycosaminoglycan in equine body fluid compartments and articular cartilage in an osteochondral defect model. J Equine Vet Sci. 1993; 696-703.

*Clinical relevance of these results is unknown

Adequan® and the Horse Head design are a registered trademarks of Luitpold Pharmaceuticals Inc.

© Luitpold Animal Health, division of Luitpold Pharmaceuticals Inc. 2016 AHD229 Iss. 03/2016