Vulture-killing drug still being sold in India: Researchers


New Delhi, Sep 16 | More than a decade after being banned, a vulture-toxic drug is still being prescribed in pharmacies across India, according to an undercover investigation led by a group of environmental organisations and universities.

In 2003, the widespread veterinary use of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac in cattle was discovered to be decimating the most iconic birds in South Asia — Asian vultures — after entering the vultures’ food chain.

This environmental disaster caused 99.9 per cent of white-rumped vultures and 97 per cent of long and slender-billed vultures to be wiped out — a staggering 40 million birds — pushing these birds to the brink of extinction.

Governments were quick to react, with India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh banning the drug from veterinary practice.

Yet cattle carcasses in India continue to be found containing potentially lethal concentrations of diclofenac along with contaminated, dead vultures.

Worryingly, populations of these critically endangered birds were not showing significant signs of recovery.

The new study, published recently in the journal Bird Conservation International, set out to identify what non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were being offered for sale for veterinary use.

From 2012 to 2017, members of the research team visited pharmacies and asked for drugs to treat their injured cow, buying the first drug that was offered.

This research was undertaken by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Centre for Conservation Science, the Bombay Natural History Society, Bird Conservation Nepal, IUCN Bangladesh and the University of Cambridge.

John Mallord, the lead author of the study, said: “As the sale of diclofenac for veterinary use is illegal, if we were open about the reasons for the survey, and that we were vulture conservationists, pharmacists would be unlikely to offer us diclofenac.”

“We had to pretend to be livestock owners so we could get an unbiased picture of its availability.”

In India, trends in sales of different non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs varied between the different regions surveyed.

In the first year, diclofenac was still the most commonly offered non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

Whilst sales of diclofenac declined in some states, elsewhere there were actually increases.

In the five Indian states surveyed in the final year, 2017, diclofenac was still being offered by 10 to 46 per cent of pharmacists.

Chris Bowden, Programme Manager of Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE), told IANS: “The importance of these results is emphasised by the most recent published nationwide population surveys of vultures in India and Nepal.”

“In Nepal, there is evidence that vulture populations have begun to recover, but in India they either continue to decline or, at best, are stable but at low levels and not yet showing signs of a recovery.”

However, the study had some positive findings.

Sales of diclofenac declined in all three countries over the course of the survey, although there was variation depending on the region.

Diclofenac virtually disappeared from the pharmacies in Nepal, with meloxicam, a vulture safe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, being the drug of choice for treating cattle.

In Bangladesh, the vulture-toxic drug ketoprofen was always more commonly sold than meloxicam, despite being also illegal and banned.

Vibhu Prakash, Deputy Director of Bombay Natural History Society said: “Although diclofenac, which is the most toxic drug to vultures, has been the main focus of our advocacy work, our study recorded 11 different non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, of which five are already known to be toxic to vultures.

“Where there is robust scientific evidence that drugs are toxic to vultures, governments within vulture range countries should implement bans on their veterinary use.

“This will require extensive safety testing of a range of drugs, which will also discover further vulture-safe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which will give farmers and veterinarians a choice, in addition to meloxicam.”

Source: IANS

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Policybazaar Unveils its new brand campaign "AapKiSideHai"

Policybazaar Unveils its new brand campaign

Akshay Kumar delivers the brand’s promise of always being on the customer’s side

Gurugram, 19th Sept, 2020: (Twitter handle: PolicyBazaar), India’s largest online insurance marketplace with over 10 million customers, showcases its commitment to customers in its new television campaign “AapKiSideHai”. The new ad campaign featuring Policybazaar brand ambassador, Akshay Kumar, highlights the brand’s promise of embracing a holistic customer centric approach while helping to bridge the insurance protection gap in India.

Policybazaar’sAapKiSideHai campaign seeks to reassure its customers on being a dependable Insurance partner for them, every step of the way. The brand has always focused on distributing products like term insurance, health insurance, zero commission ULIP’s and motor insurance that are optimal from a customer perspective. Policybazaar is now extending the brand promise beyond the purchase experience to ensure that consumers get the highest levels of service throughout the policy lifecycle.

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“While we continue to highlight the importance of Health & Term life Insurance through our marketing campaigns, with the brand promise of Policybazaar AapKiSideHai, we also intend to position Policybazaar as a customer centric brand, that is committed to stand by its customers, both pre and post purchase”, said Samir Sethi, Head of Brand Marketing, The new ad series highlights Policybazaar’s unparalleled support to customers, while providing them with the ease of comparing and buying term and health plans online with guidance at each & every step.

Speaking about the TVC launch, Sharat Dhall, Chief Operating Officer, said, “Our ultimate aim is to provide 360-degree assistance to customers that starts from when the policy is bought, to provide assistance when the claim is paid out, should such a situation arise. Winning and maintaining customer trust is a strong ethos within the company and this campaign reflects that. At a time when the world is grappling with a crisis like no other, the brand intends to instill confidence in the customers’ buying decisions by assuring them protection of their futures with the right insurance products & thorough assistance throughout the journey.”

The new brand campaign in its series displays moments of indecision that people may have while investing in protection products. It addresses these queries &emphasizes the importance of nurturing a bond with the consumers thereby creating customer delight.


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