New Delhi, Oct 25 (IANS) Global consortium SAVE, involved in saving vultures across South Asia, on Wednesday hailed a high court ruling that upheld the ban on the sale of a human painkiller in multiple dosage packs posing a threat to the scavenger birds.
There is no legitimate need for larger vials in human medicine, so the production of the larger vials has been a cynical way that the pharmaceutical companies have been facilitating illegal use of the drug, Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) said in a statement.
The Madras High Court on Tuesday upheld the ban on multi-dose vials of human diclofenac, to protect against its illegal use by veterinarians.
The ban was imposed by the Indian government in July 2015, and was heralded by SAVE and vulture conservationists as a crucially important step to further reduce diclofenac use in cattle, the major cause of the catastrophic vulture declines across South Asia.
The case was brought to the court by two pharmaceutical companies, Laborate Pharmaceuticals of Haryana and Alpa Laboratories of Madhya Pradesh.
They were hoping to overturn the restriction of injectable diclofenac vial size to less than 3ml which had been imposed after several years of lobbying by conservation organisations, comprising the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
The BNHS attributes the decline of these scavenging birds that help maintain ecological balance in nature to the extensive use of diclofenac in treating cattle. The vultures that consumed the carcasses of animals treated with diclofenac died with symptoms of kidney failure.
A division bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sundar observed: “We are accepting the precautionary principle advanced as an argument by the learned solicitor, and lack of decline in vulture population post-2012 argument of the writ petitioners pales into insignificance.”
The case prompted a high court appointed panel of experts to meet, re-examining the evidence.
Vulture expert BNHS Deputy Director Vibhu Prakash, who was called by the expert panel along with senior government officials, said: “We presented the strong scientific evidence for the link between diclofenac use in cattle and vulture declines, and evidence of how diclofenac is clearly still being used illegally by some irresponsible veterinary practitioners.”
“Upholding this ban is an important way to make this illegal use less easy, and so help to protect the last few remaining vultures,” said a statement quoting him.
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