Treating Equine Ulcers

Some products just don’t make “cents.”

From AQHA Corporate Partner Merial

Dr. Kevin Keane of Sports Medicine Associates of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, has a list of clients that ranges from hall of fame race horse trainers to Olympic-level riders in multiple disciplines. As veterinarian to these top horsemen and women, he also sees horses involved in every level of competition and training and knows from experience that all of them can be prone to developing equine stomach ulcers.1

Given the number of horses Dr. Keane sees annually, it isn’t surprising that he diagnoses and treats hundreds of them for equine stomach ulcers, which studies have found occur in 63 percent of non-racing competitive horses1 and can develop in as few as five days.2

In his practice, he relies routinely on gastroscopy to make definitive diagnoses of equine stomach ulcers. While Dr. Keane initially used Gastrogard (omeprazole) to treat ulcers in the horses he saw, he had clients who began asking about compounded omeprazole products.

“When the economy weakened, some of my clients were looking for other options to treat equine stomach ulcers.”

The American Quarter Horse Journal has brought its readers the greatest events, introduced them to legendary horses and people and provided tips on riding, training, racing, management and health.

What Dr. Keane quickly discovered, based on repeat gastric endoscopy in these patients, is that unapproved compounded omeprazole and other products claiming to treat stomach ulcers were often ineffective.

“Because we weren’t seeing a good response to many of these other products, we collected our own in-house data over time.”

Based on his experience, Dr. Keane switched back to Gastrogard, the only FDA-approved and proven product to treat equine stomach ulcers. He is a firm believer in the product and now readily shares that information with his clients.

“Whenever I walk into a barn and see another product claiming to do what Gastrogard does, I share with them what our clinical findings have been.”

Research backs up Dr. Keane’s opinion, with results of one study showing that the compounded omeprazole formulations tested only contained between 6 and 76 percent of their labeled values.3 The lack of active ingredient in these products renders them virtually useless in the treatment of equine gastric ulcers. Furthermore, only the Merial brands use proprietary technology that is proven to protect the omeprazole from degradation while passing through the stomach and into the small intestine, which is critical for proper absorption and therefore efficacy. Both factors are very important to the success of an ulcer treatment regimen with omeprazole.

Join the 235,000 people who read the Journal each month, including more AQHA judges and professionals than any other publication.

Besides offering Gastrogard, which treats equine stomach ulcers, Merial also offers Ulcergard (omeprazole), which prevents stomach ulcers. Once daily administration of Ulcergard is recommended in horses exposed to stressful conditions or activities that may induce stomach ulcers in horses.4

More information about equine stomach ulcers, their treatment and prevention is available at

Important Safety Information:
Caution: Safety of Gastrogard in pregnant or lactating mares has not been determined.

Ulcergard (omeprazole) can be used in horses that weigh at least 600 pounds. The effectiveness of Ulcergard in the prevention of gastric ulcers in foals and weanlings has not been evaluated. Ulcergard may be used safely in breeding stallions. Safety in pregnant mares has not been determined.

About Merial
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,600 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2010 sales were more than $2.6 billion. Merial is a Sanofi company.

For more information, visit

1 Mitchell RD. Prevalence of gastric ulcers in hunter/jumper and dressage horses evaluated for poor performance. Association for Equine Sports Medicine, September 2001.
2 McClure SR, Carithers DS, Gross SJ, Murray MJ. Gastric ulcer development in horses in a simulated show or training environment. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2005;227(5):775-777.
3 Data on file at Merial.
4 Ulcergard product label.

®Merial, Ulcergard and Gastrogard are registered trademarks of Merial. ©2011 Merial Limited, Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQUIUGD1143 (11/11)