Veterinary drug for cattle that led to collapse of vulture populations of Asia is a risk to 55,000 birds, says European Medicines Agency
Monday 15 December 2014 17.52 GMT
Pressure is mounting on Europe to immediately ban a drug used by vets which has been linked to the poisoning of vultures and other birds which feed on the corpses of cows treated with it.
The use of veterinary diclofenac, a pain-killing anti-inflammatory medecine given to livestock led to the unintentional but almost complete collapse of many vulture populations in Asia in 1990s and early 2000s. But a loophole in Europe allows it to be legally used in Spain and Italy where nearly all Europe’s estimated 55,000 vultures live.
Now, following an investigation of the death of a Spanish vulture in 2012, theEuropean Medicines Agency has confirmed that vultures and other carrion-eating birds are at risk. The European commission asked the agency, which is responsible for the scientific evaluation of all medicines developed by EU drug companies, to consider the risks it posed to birds after scientists and ornithologists protested when Spain authorised use of the drug on cattle last year. A dose of just 0.1–0.2 mg/kg body weight can cause rapid, lethal kidney failure.