This is rather scary given that is has been banned on the Indian Subcontinent. Thanks for making more people aware of this. I found this website:
Diclofanac has been banned on the Indian sub-continent because of its use in domestic cattle that has been proven to kill vultures who eat the carcasses of cattle etc that feed off of dead livestock.
In the UK and Europe it is used quite often to treat severe muscular pain and in the treatment of cancer pain symptoms.
It is quite unfortunate that it has such severe side effects in nature but has very positive results in those suffering from debilitating and life reducing illness.
I'm not totally sure of Roys previous post on this issue but am concerned that a drug that can relieve suffering and pain, that is not used as indescrimantely, in the UK as is in the Indian subcontinent should be banned. Yes its use should be controlled but it has a very positive role to play in the palliative care of certain patients.
The way I understand it, "The Issue" is whether diclofenac should be licensed in Europe for veterinary purposes, which is a recent development - see this blog and its links.
Granted, the European use of the drug might initially be a positive one, however there are always those who will exploit an opportunity for their own use. Hopefully the initial post will provoke some interest in the subject matter and (more) informed conclusions may be drawn.
Hi all, thanks for the rapid responses. Yes, the issue is the veterinary licensing of the drug, not the human medical use. In particular its use in Spain, which is the stronghold of vultures in Europe and one of the countries which has applied for its use in farm animals. The Commission reply to my letter stated that they felt that since dead farm animals have to be disposed of quickly under EU law, there would not be an issue. However I feel that in the remoter areas of Spain it may be several days before the carcase of a treated animal is removed and that would allow time for vultures to get at it and die of kidney failure. It seems crazy to take the risk given what happened in India. I have found no clear account of the veterinary benefits in cattle.
Great to see so many people concerned about this. To find out what we've been doing, and what else you can do to help, I caught up with Sacha Cleminson (Head of International Biodiversity Policy) who's been working on diclofenac in Europe. Here's what he had to say:
Roy is dead right, it is essential that the issue is put (back) on the radar of new and returning MEPs. This is particularly the case as we’re expecting a new set of European Commissioners to take office this autumn. It is in the power of Commissioners to ban veterinary diclofenac, and there are actions we can take. Options that have the potential to have an impact include:
We are working very closely with our Spanish and Italian BirdLife Partners, doing everything we can to head off a repeat of the vulture decline in India, and also with the Partners in the other 26 Member States. And of course we're keeping in touch with the Vulture Conservation Foundation. Their blog (linked to by monkeycheese above) provides some good background on the problem, as does the introduction to the Change.org petition, which you might find useful for writing to your MEP or MP.
Because the drug has already been approved for use in Spain and Italy we’re fighting an uphill battle, so we’ll be in this one for the long-haul – every letter will help, especially once we find out who the new Commissioners are in the Autumn.
Thanks for all your support, and if you've got 10 minutes, do write to your MEPs - you can find out who they are at https://www.writetothem.com/.
Good news on this topic. According to British Birds (November 2014, p666) the EU Commission has now asked the European Medicines Agency to review the risk to European vulture populations of the veterinary use of Diclofenac.
I wrote to the company which makes and sells the drug in Europe (FATRO, based in Italy) asking them politely why they sold it here in light of the risks. No reply or acknowledgement to date.
I’ve now had a reply from the European Parliament Commission on Petitions, responding to mine about veterinary Diclofenac. The upshot is that while they will not ban veterinary use of Diclofenac in Europe, they now require member states to monitor potential impacts on necrophagous birds (lovely phrase to work into conversation…),. I guess the next step for to work with partner organisations in EU countries with vultures to make sure this is implemented effectively, and to make sure any impact is identified and responded to appropriately.
Here are two posts with the details of the judgement.
and the last one
Thanks very much for sharing this Roy.
I had a brief catch up with my colleagues in SEO (the Spanish Birdlife partner) and Birdlife Europe. They remain very concerned about the threat to vultures from diclofenac and will continue to fight to get it banned for veterinary use. You can read about SEO's work to date on their website here: www.seo.org/.../diclofenaco, and hopefully between Roy and I we'll be able to share further updates here later in the year about their ongoing work.
I've had an update from our BirdLife secretariat in Europe on vet diclofenac in Spain and Portugal. Today a coalition of Birdlife partners, WWF and the Vulture Conservation Foundation have launched their campaign to get veterinary diclofenac banned in Europe.
If you'd like to get involved and help our BirdLife partners SEO (Spain) and SPEA (Portugal), you can sign the petition here: www.banvetdiclofenac.com/.../act. There also lots of information and resources on the website about why diclofenac is so damaging to vultures and why vultures themselves are so important.
If you're on social media you can share BirdLife's messages
- Facebook post (in English and French): www.facebook.com/.../296867124056234
- Twitter post (in English): twitter.com/.../885416396615712769
or write your own using their hashtag #BanVetDiclofenac and of course the petition link: www.banvetdiclofenac.com/.../act!
Signed and retweeted
Joined the Group just to sign, thanks for putting it on the community forum.