Knych, H. K., Casbeer, H. C., McKemie, D. S., Arthur, R. M. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of butorphanol following intravenous administration to the horse. J. vet. Pharmacol. Therap. 36, 21–30.

Butorphanol is a narcotic analgesic commonly used in horses. Currently, any detectable concentration of butorphanol in biological samples collected from performance horses is considered a violation. The primary goal of the study reported here was to update the pharmacokinetics of butorphanol following intravenous administration, utilizing a highly sensitive liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) assay that is currently employed in many drug-testing laboratories. An additional objective was to characterize behavioral and cardiac effects following administration of butorphanol. Ten exercised adult horses received a single intravenous dose of 0.1 mg/kg butorphanol. Blood and urine samples were collected at time 0 and at various times for up to 120 h and analyzed using LC-MS. Mean ± SD systemic clearance, steady-state volume of distribution, and terminal elimination half-life were 11.5 ± 2.5 mL/min/kg, 1.4 ± 0.3 L/kg, and 5.9 ± 1.5 h, respectively. Butorphanol plasma concentrations were below the limit of detection (LOD) (0.01 ng/mL) by 48 h post administration. Urine butorphanol concentrations were below the LOD (0.05 ng/mL) of the assay in seven of 10 horses by 120 h post drug administration. Following administration, horses appeared excited as noted by an increase in heart rate and locomotion. Gastrointestinal sounds were markedly decreased for up to 24 h.