Scientific community suggest that weak environmental assessments of veterinary drugs undermine regulations and can cause a vulture ecological disaster

A few days before the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is due to take a final decision regarding the banning of diclofenac – a veterinary drug that causes kidney failure and death of vultures, and that decimated vulture populations in Pakistan, India, and Nepal during the 1990s, and is now available in Spain and Italy-, a large section of the European scientific community (including researchers in the advisory board of the VCF) published a paper this week in Science advocating the need to keep harmful veterinary medicines out of the environment.

Margalida et al suggest that researchers and policymakers need to establish programs similar to those proposed for human drugs to prevent the approval and use of veterinary drugs out there that can have impacts on scavengers. The authors call for the adoption of a more holistic system of screening veterinary drugs that promotes environmental responsibility, involves all sectors of society and considers environmental effects during the production, use, and disposal of veterinary medicines.

With the EMA about to publish their scientific advice on the possible negative effects of diclofenac on Europe´s vultures - Spain harbours about 95% of the European Union’s vultures, as well as the continent’s entire population of threatened Spanish Imperial Eagles and populations of Red Kites, we hope this latest call from the scientific community will help the EU Commission take the right decisions:

  1. Ban vet diclofenac

  2. Change the EU guidelines on risk assessment of new veterinary drugs to consider eco-toxicity factors

  3. Help develop a comprehensive programme of testing of toxicity levels of veterinary drugs to scavenging species

(Photo Erick Kobierzycki)

One Health approach to use of veterinary pharmaceuticals
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