August 29, 2015
In a landmark step towards saving the endangered vulture, the Union Government has banned the use of multi-vial dose of Diclofenac, a deadly drug for the scavengers, which is used in cattle as painkiller. The production of 30ml vial has been banned and 3ml vial restricted to use on humans only.
This step, a major demand of Coimbatore based Arulagam, comes as a boost for vulture conservation. The nature’s janitors, who clean up carcasses, are essential for a good ecosystem.
“It is an important step in preserving wildlife in the Niligris,” said S. Bharathi Dasan, Secretary of Arulagam.
Apart from Arulagam, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE), formed in 2011, have been fighting for the bird’s population, which is rapidly on the decline. All three organizations have been persuading pharmaceutical manufacturing companies to cease production of the larger vials to treat livestock.
It is expected that people will now switch to Meloxicam, the safer alternative for vultures. Arulagam has been working with the Nilgiris, Coimbatore and Erode district administrations to create vulture safe zones. Vultures destroy pathogens, recycle nutrients and prevent contamination of water bodies. Of the 23 species of vultures worldwide, nine are present in India.
The Centre had banned Diclofenac for veterinary use in 2006. But the drug was available in multi-dose vials-30ml bottles for human use. Larger quantity bottles were bought through drugstores in the guise of human use and transferred illegally for cattle.
Now, the Ministry for Health and Family Welfare had issued a notification dated 17 July, 2015 to amend the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules, 1945 in rule 105, in sub-rule (2), “that Diclofenac injunction for human use shall be in single unit dose pack only.”
“The presence of this notification on the Health Ministry website has been something we’ve been eagerly awaiting for well over two years now. It has been a top priority at all the ‘Saving Asia’s
Vultures from Extinction’ meetings. BNHS vulture programme staff has been busily keeping up the pressure in Delhi and in various other ways ever since an inter-ministry meeting nearly four years ago,” said an e-mail from Arulagam.