Author Topic: Diclofenac,NSAIDS and the threat to Iberian vultures  (Read 47395 times)

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Offline Clive

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Diclofenac,NSAIDS and the threat to Iberian vultures
« on: May 02, 2008, 11:14 AM »
EDIT.... THIS TOPIC HAS BEEN MOVED HERE TO THE MAIN IBERIAN BIRD BOARD BECAUSE THERE SEEMS TO BE ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST A THREAT TO IBERIAN VULTURES.

Hi All,

Reading the latest from the BBC about diclofenac and the Asian vulture population decimation it seems whilst there are people working really hard to help reduce the damage, the pharmaceutical companies are just selling the stuff as normal...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7373381.stm

With the news that Diclofenac is now available in Africa it won't be long before we see problems with the Iberian migratory Griffons that cross the straits of Gibraltar every year... I still don't have any estimated numbers of migrants passing this way and also I am under the impression that some griffons this far south in Andalucia make regular trips across to Morocco during the year depending on carrion food supply...

Here is the RSBP link
http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/details.asp?id=tcm:9-188408

And here is the Bombay natural history society current news
http://www.bnhs.org/article.php?cid=MjI%3D&sid=MjU3&aid=MjYz&t=Mg%3D%3D&PHPSESSID=31d529b2f966c030569c4bac6617847a

Clive
« Last Edit: June 14, 2008, 01:10 AM by Clive »
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Diclofenac,NSAIDS and the threat to Iberian vultures
« on: May 02, 2008, 11:14 AM »

Offline lisa

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2008, 22:13 PM »
Interesting that it only affects certain species, ie. Condors seem to be immune to the effects of this drug. Another interesting point is that no pharmaceutical company is named in any of the reports. I can't remember reading of any before either. Should the companies concerned not be being heavily lobbied by members of the RSPB, Birdlife Int. Iberianature forum, etc. etc? Of course, the less vultures around to keep the place clean, the more bacteria to be combatted......
This really is bad news, I thought the problem had been solved. Here's another link for the RSPB's donation campaign.
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Offline Clive

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2008, 23:00 PM »
Hi,

I have spent ages trying to find the names of the companies producing Diclofenac and now its generic varieties... I just get bogged down in circles and get nowhere...

I think that the generic versions available in Africa have a different brand name as well so are even harder to track down...

Now that it is proven that diclofenac has caused this I would like to see the company responsible for the original research and development of the drug to at least make some kind of a statement.... Maybe there are legal issues here that are stopping names being named?

I guess I am not looking hard enough... :)

Clive
« Last Edit: May 02, 2008, 23:03 PM by Clive »
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Offline John C

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2008, 01:21 AM »
I find this topic so depressing!  I sometimes wonder whether the best thing that conservationists could do would be to buy up supplies of the harmless drug and simply give it away.  If only someone could persuade the governments concerned how much cheaper vultures are as sanitation workers!  Regarding the immunity of condors, current taxonomic thinking is that they're not 'real' raptors, but more closely related to storks!

John

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Offline Clive

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2008, 12:46 PM »
Hi all,

So I went to Lisa's link and sure enough it mentions the big company GlaxoSmithKline.... But this is where I get lost in circles... The web site of said big company http://www.gsk.com/index.htm has absolutely no information available for diclofenac or dicofen. There are no articles defending its use or anything a tall that agrees or disagrees with the current sale of this product across asia or africa or anywhere else... As far as the web site is concerned its not there so why does the site that lisa posted say its made by GSK?

It gets a bit tiring trying to find out information... I have written to the RSPB, the hawk council, the Bombay natural history society and had no reply at all from any of them.. (more than 6 months ago I wrote)

Can anyone find a statement from any pharmaceutical company about this subject anywhere?

John, can you get the information of Gyps fulvus passage migrant numbers across the straits of Gibraltar? Where do they winter?

As far as I can see at some point this is going to start affecting Iberian bred birds because of the sale of this product across Africa.

Clive

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Offline judith

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2008, 13:56 PM »
Hi all,

Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that has been used in humans for donkeys years. It is especially helpful to arthritic sufferers, especially children with juvenile arthritis. It does however come with various side-effects, some more serious than others. In humans, it is a case for doctors to work out in the individual patient whether the benefits out-weigh the risks.
Meloxicam is a newer NSAID, which also comes with it's own benefits and risks...infact all of the NSAID's can have serious side effects in a few individuals.
Both drugs have their uses and, if used appropriately, can be very beneficial.

The question I feel we should be asking is why the vets in Africa and Asia are using NSAID's and how frequently...they should not be dished out like sweets for mild pain, also if the animal is incapacitated enough to need NSAID's and subsequently dies, the disposal of the corpse should be of paramount importance to prevent it becoming part of the food chain.

Diclofenac comes as tablets, suppositories and injections.
Trade names areVoltarol (distributed by Novartis), Diclomax (Provalis), Motifene( Sankyo), Arthrotec Pharmacia), Acoflam,Defenac,Dexomon,Dicloflex,diclovol, Fenactol,Flamatak,Flamrase,rhumalgan,Slofenac and other trade names in other countries.

Haven't looked into their sites on the net yet, but will do over the weekend.

Cheers
Judith

Offline Clive

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2008, 15:03 PM »
Thanks for the extra info Judith... Especially the other trade names that have appeared since its release to anyone to make a generic version.

Also the with any drug, veterinary brand names are often different to the human usage brand names

The links in my initial post are good reading and answer some of your points raised. It is obligatory reading really in order to grasp the seriousness of the whole issue.

Clive
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Offline Clive

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2008, 22:11 PM »
Veterinary brand names I have found are

diclofenac, voltral, dolo k, and dicofen

I have written to a few NGO's and other people

What is quite amazing to me is that everyone everywhere are talking about various "eco subjects" such as global warming etc.... but a 95 percent decline in Asian vulture species in just 10 years is so shocking I wonder why we don't hear more about it.... It raises so many questions about our usage of pharmaceutical drugs and globalisation doesn't it?

95 percent in just 10 years! If anyone can find another species that has declined to this extent I would like to know about it....

Clive
« Last Edit: May 03, 2008, 22:19 PM by Clive »
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Offline peanut

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2008, 22:41 PM »
Hi Clive,
There are two questions I have about this subject-
Why is diclofenac used in such large amounts in cattle- is it as anti-inflam or are there other benefits (growth rates etc)
I can see from the associated sites that meloxican was trialed on vultures but I cannot see that diclofenac was trialed in the same way;while I can see that this is understanderble given the possible consequences, it would be good to see statistical proof rather than a suggested link between death rates and diclofenac intake

Offline judith

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2008, 23:02 PM »
Hi Clive,
I have read all the links on your first post, but unless I am being dumb (which is perfectly possible in fact probable), I can't find the research bit that says how the researchers know that it was definately Diclofenac that caused the problem. I agree they found levels of Diclofenac in the dead birds and that the drug could have caused renal failure in the birds as this is the way it is excreted through the body, but where is the definitive research that says Diclofenac is the causative agent?
Also why are so many cattle in India in need of anti-inflammatories at all?
I know I sound like I'm defending Diclofenac, but I promise I'm not! It's just that I feel if you/we/conservationists are going to take on big pharmaceutical companies, we must be absolutely certain of the facts otherwise it will all get swept under the carpet again!
Could it be that it is not the drug per se that is at fault but the people misprescribing, using or abusing it that are at fault?
If that is the case, no company distributing Diclofenac(and making very fat profits from it) are going to feel that they should stop getting their "good, beneficial" drug to the places that most need it....even if they are using the human prep. instead!

(Incidentally, linked to this subject and with some interesting parallels, although only fictitious, is a John Le Carre novel called "The Constant Gardener") I promise you not as frivolous as it sounds and certainly not mentioned to take away from the seriousness of this issue.
I will have a look at the distributing agents and see if I can glean anything from them....I'll also look at some of the other drugs they distribute and see if they have any of the ones I used to precribe in their portfolio.....you never know, there may be a back door to the research via a friendly rep!

Offline Clive

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2008, 23:40 PM »
Hi Judith and Peanut and all....

This link
http://www.birdlife.org/action/science/species/asia_vulture_crisis/vulture_manifesto.html

Should explain a lot more if you are unfamiliar with the situation regarding the use of diclofenac and the connection to Asian vulture decline...

There are more links to info at the top right of the page at birdlife, if you have time please take a look at the history and research...

At the bottom of the page I linked to is a list of the people who endorse the research.

What I am most interested in here is that I am now hearing mention of a threat to "European" vultures and given that Spain holds the biggest colonies then I want to know why there is a risk...

Clive
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Offline Clive

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2008, 00:09 AM »
Hi,

I see from the iucn red list that the Egyptian vulture is also under decline in Asia possibly due to diclofenac.... This is new as I thought only gyps species were affected.

http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/49339/all

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Offline judith

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2008, 00:21 AM »
We agree, very worrying re; Spanish vultures...... we need to look further into the situation and establish for ourselves,at least, some solid facts!
(Thanks Clive! I thought I was going to spend the weekend enjoying the sun, but now will be glued to the computer!) :)
This is going to be quite a deep and complicated topic I think!
Judith

Offline Clive

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2008, 00:50 AM »
From the BBC article at the beginning of this topic....

Quote
Although India's government banned the manufacture of the drug in 2006, Dr Cunningham said the measure has had little impact.

"They have only banned its manufacture for veterinary treatments," he explained, "the manufacture for medical treatments are unaffected by this ban.

"The treatment of animals with diclofenac also hasn't been banned, so people are now just using the medical version to treat animals rather than buying the veterinary one."

It also appears as if the drug is still being imported from producers in other countries, which means fresh supplies are making their way onto the market.

What I see is loopholes.....
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Offline judith

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2008, 15:30 PM »
Hi Clive,
 have found the research paper that Dr. Lindsay Oaks wrote, just got to read through it now (Diclofenac residues as the cause of vulture population decline in Pakistan" principal author: J.Lindsay Oaks, published in Nature:vol.427;12 Feb 2004, www.nature.com/nature) but there is definite proof that it was Diclofenac that was responsible; a quote from Dr. Oaks:
"The researchers also gave diclofenac, and meat from animals treated with diclofenac, to 20 non-releasable vultures rescued from nesting colonies. "We hated to do it," says Oaks. The diclofenac killed these vultures in very small doses, with the same symptoms as the dead, wild vultures. Furthermore, the higher the dose of the drug, the more likely the vultures were to die."I've also found a couple of clinical trials involving Diclofenac still recruiting in India and one in Africa, but will need to read up on them too!


Offline judith

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2008, 15:42 PM »
Globally,clinical trials involving Diclofenac are being sponsored by loads of pharmaceutical companies;
nuvo Research Inc, Wyeth, Cerimon Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, Javelin Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Merck, to name but a few.

Offline Clive

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2008, 21:46 PM »
Judith,

Are you talking about usage for humans or veterinary for the trials?

Obviously its the veterinary usage that causes the most problems but in India people just started to use the human versions when the veterinary ones were banned. That said it does seem that veterinary versions are still filtering into the country....

I am waiting for replies to some emails I have sent but what I am trying to find out now is....

1. What is the law in Morocco regarding the use of Diclofenac for veterinary purposes.

2. How many Iberian griffon vultures migrate annually to areas that may be using this drug

I have heard that in 2000 there was a recorded passage of almost 4000 individuals. Given that estimates in Iberia for Gyps fulvus are around 20,000 individuals that means that a large portion of Iberian griffons will be at risk whilst away from Iberia...

Clive
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Offline steveT

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2008, 02:00 AM »
Clive,

There was an article on a study done on Giffon migration into Morocco in Quercus ..... over ten years ago ..... I remember little about it.......I no longer have the copy ..... but there should be a way to get it.

steevT

Offline nick

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Re: Diclofenac and vultures
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2008, 12:08 PM »
This is a well reserached thread. Well done everybody. I'm trying find some infro from Spanish sources but so far no joy.
Nick
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