New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday sought the response of the Centre and others on a plea seeking direction for safety testing of the drugs on wild scavenging birds, mainly vultures, before launching new NSAIDs–Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs– in the open market.
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) contended that NSAIDS like Aceclofenac, Nimesulide, Ketoprofen etc are harmful for Vultures, but no serious efforts and steps have been taken for their safety.
Issuing notice to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization National Biodiversity Authority, Indian Veterinary Research Institute and Bombay Natural History Society, the division bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla slated the matter for August 24.
As per the PIL, filed by petitioner Gaurav Kumar Bansal, it sought the respondents to check the toxicity of NSAIDs available in the market and if found toxic ban the manufacturing, distribution, retail formulation, injectable formulation and use of bolus of the same by way of evoking Section 26A of the Indian Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
Praying for directions from the court on the protection and conservation of the vultures in the country, the plea highlighted that they are listed as critically endangered by IUCN and also added in the Schedule -1 of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act – 1972 which is the highest category of the endangerment.
Notably, the population of three of the nine Indian species of vultures — the white-rumped, the long-billed, and the slender-billed — have crashed by 90 per cent in the mid-1990s. The birds are now listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, the highest threat category ahead of extinction.
To save them from certain extinction, the government of India’s Action Plan for Vulture Conservation in India — 2020-2025, which was presented to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) secretariat, advocates the prevention of misuse of veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by ensuring their sale only on prescription.
As per reports, diclofenac, the drug widely used by veterinarians as a painkiller is considered as the main cause of the dramatic 99 per cent vulture decline across Asia.