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To protect vultures, govt bans Ketoprofen and Aceclofenac

Ketoprofen and Aceclofenac in cattle is equally toxic as Diclofenac and can kill vultures.
Last Updated : 18 June 2023, 03:07 IST
Last Updated : 18 June 2023, 03:07 IST
Last Updated : 18 June 2023, 03:07 IST
Last Updated : 18 June 2023, 03:07 IST

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The Centre has taken a big step towards vulture conservation by imposing a ban on use, sale and manufacture of veterinary drugs - Ketoprofen and Aceclofenac - as they proved detrimental for the Indian vultures.

The veterinary use of Diclofenac has been already banned by the Government of India in 2006 - after a big decline in vulture population in the country.

This is one of the big successes for the Mumbai-headquartered Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

The decision was taken recently during the meeting of the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Praveen Pardeshi, the BNHS President and Kishor Rithe, the Honorary Secretary and Interim Director, thanked the government for the decision. "This will prove helpful to save Jatayu in India,” said Rithe.

As per the minutes of the meeting held on 10 May 2023, the Board considered representations mentioning - “Ketoprofen and Aceclofenac in cattle is equally toxic as Diclofenac and can kill vultures. Studies showed that the Aceclofenac was rapidly metabolised into Diclofenac and Ketoprofen is toxic to Gyps vultures.”

The three Gyps species - Oriental white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis), Slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris), Long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus) are critically endangered and the conservation is being done both ex-situ and in-situ methods.

“Following deliberation on the matter, the DTAB is prohibiting the manufacture, sale and distribution of the drugs ketoprofen and aceclofenac along with their formulations for animal use. This is an important step towards conservation of vultures in India, as vultures feeding on cattle carcasses treated with these drugs suffer mortality due to visceral gout and kidney failure,” said Rithe on Saturday after the Centre's decision.

According to him, BNHS’s representation on diclofenac’s toxicity towards vultures played a pivotal role in the Government of India’s decision to ban the veterinary use of the drug back in 2006.

"Over the past one and a half decades, BNHS has been one of the leading organizations working on safety-testing of veterinary drugs and policy for veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with support from the Government of India, respective State Governments of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB),” he added.

Alongside identifying aceclofenac, nimesulide and ketoprofen as known vulture-toxic veterinary drugs, BNHS along with partner organizations and experts has also contributed to identifying safe and viable alternatives to these drugs – meloxicam and tolfenamic acid.

On 14 March 2022, the BNHS through the Vulture Conservation Policy component, submitted a detailed dossier to the Wildlife Division, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), with constitutional provision, scientific evidence and policy provisions on vulture-toxicity of aceclofenac, nimesulide and ketoprofen, requesting for appropriate regulation of the veterinary use of these three drugs through the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW). The MoEF&CC sought comments from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI).

Both WII and IVRI supported the dossier. The dossier also encouraged the widespread use of vulture-safe veterinary drugs - meloxicam and tolfenamic acid. The dossier was also shared with Arulagam in Tamil Nadu to facilitate their interaction with State-level bureaucracy and public representatives on matters related to vulture conservation.

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Published 18 June 2023, 02:53 IST

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