Vultures Current Affairs

Tamil Nadu Government bans Ketoprofen drug to save vultures

Tamil Nadu state government has banned Ketoprofen, a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to save critically endangered vulture population in the state.

This drug has been banned in the three western districts of state viz in Erode, Coimbatore and Nilgiris where the vulture population is in danger.

Ketoprofen is extensively used for veterinary purposes and as an alternative to banned veterinary painkiller Diclofenac. It is believed that Ketoprofen causes same effect on the vulture population caused by Diclofenac.

Deadly effects of Diclofenac on Vultures

  • Vultures act as scavengers, preying on dead animals as they have a robust digestive system which can even digest disease-causing pathogens found in rotting meat of dead.
  • But they are not able to break down Diclofenac and die of renal failure or kidney after eating carcasses of cattle administered drug.
  • Meloxicam is an alternative drug which can be used instead of Diclofenac and Ketoprofen.

Earlier in 2006, Union Government had banned the use of veterinary drug Diclofenac for treating cattle and in September 2015 its sale in multi-dose vial was banned for human use.

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Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare bans sale of Diclofenac in multidose vial

Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has banned the sale of Diclofenac in multidose vial. Henceforth, it will be sold only in single-dose vial packaging for human use.

This ban was imposed on recommendation of Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in order to save and protect vultures from brink of extinction.

In this regard, MoEFCC has published an official Gazette notification no G.S.R 558 (E) dated 17th July, 2015, banning packaging of multi-dose vial of Diclofenac.

Diclofenac and Vulture extinction

  • Diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) is administered as painkiller to cattle, is the chief cause of mass extinction of vultures.
  • Vultures have a robust digestive system which can even digest disease-causing pathogens found in rotting meat of dead. But they do not have a critical enzyme that breaks down diclofenac and die of renal failure after eating carcasses of cattle administered the drug.
  • Vultures feeding on cattle having traces of diclofenac either die from acute kidney failure within a few days or lose their ability to reproduce.
  • In 2006, India had banned the use of veterinary drug Diclofenac for treating cattle. But the multi-dose vials available in the market for human use were widely misused for veterinary purpose.

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