Thursday, May 25, 2006

Drug Ban to Save Vultures

Last February in the Patenting Lives blog (see February Archives), the plight of the vultures in India was reported. Vulture numbers have significantly declined in India, apparently due to fatal liver damage caused by the common use in cattle of the drug diclofenac. Diclofenac has now been banned in India, and drug companies have been given 3 months to cease making and marketing the drug. In a report by Planet Ark, Chris Bowden, head of the Asian Vulture Programme at Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, describes the ban as "exceptionally good news." According to the Planet Ark report, farmers and vets are now being recommended meloxicam instead, described in a study published in the open access scientific publication, PLoS Biology (the subject of a recent post, "Citing Open Access Research") the use was shown to be just as effective in cattle without the accompanying toxicity in vultures.

Vultures are of particular cultural and environmental importance in India, and their decline is noted in the context of government responses (in particular, the 2010 Biodiversity Target) throughout the world to reports of alarming losses of species, in what has been described as the most serious depletion of biodiversity since the dinosaurs.

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