Diclofenac and Vulture deaths – From naivity to reality

Diclofenac is one of the most commonly used Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Just to give you an idea of the magnitude, I take the human example. Although, I really dont know to what extend ‘human diclo cycle’ touches birds, as an example, it would be good. There are about 1600 odd government health centres in Karnataka – just one state. A govt. PHC on an average dispenses 30 tablets of diclo daily. That amounts to about 50000 tablets daily in Karnataka on ONE DAY!

The wonder of this drug is that it is much sought after for the various kinds of pains, most often, arthritic pain. Moreover, recent precription practices of doctors show a remarkable bias towards diclo as compared to traditional painkillers. But, most importantly, it is quite inexpensive when compared to many others.

Changing prescription practices among doctors is a sisyphean task! Trust me, public health professionals have been trying for ages to bring in rational and evidence-based drug use, but to no avail. Unless, safer, and more importantly, more economical alternatives to vets is proposed and ACTIVELY pushed the ground situation is not likely to change at all. And this pushing has to happen, NOT THROUGH conservation groups but through medical reps! Catch any medical
professional listening to conservation groups!

Of course, all this is assuming that Diclo truely is the reason for the ‘vulture decline’. I really dont know if it is safe to assume that banning diclo would be of any help in Africa at all! Is there evidence for this?

If the future of vulture in India rests in fact on the effectiveness of the ban on diclofenac, then God save the Vulture! If at all, the vultures do manage to fight back a few years after the ban, we can rest assured that diclofenac never was the reason anyways! Cos, rarely have we ever achieved any ban in reality. ( Go to the nearest pharmacy to purchase any of the following ‘banned drugs’ – Analgin, Cisapride, Droperidol, Furazolidone, Piperazine etc…)


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