IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


4th August, 2023 Environment

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  • The Indian government's decision to ban the manufacture, sale, and distribution of ketoprofen and aceclofenac, and their formulations for animal use, has been widely applauded by experts working on vulture conservation.
  • The move is seen as a gamechanger for India's beleaguered vulture population.


Background and Significance

  • Vultures in India faced a severe population crash in the 1990s due to the use of diclofenac, a pain reliever administered to cattle.
  • When vultures fed on cattle carcasses treated with diclofenac, the drug entered their system, causing extremely painful deaths and rapidly declining their numbers.
  • Research in 2004 revealed that diclofenac was the primary cause of vulture deaths, leading to a loss of 97% of the vulture population by that time. Species such as the oriental white-backed vultures, long-billed vultures, and slender-billed vultures were severely affected.

The Vulture Recovery Plan

  • In response to this crisis, the Indian government and other agencies formulated the Vulture Recovery Plan in 2004.
  • This plan recommended banning the veterinary use of diclofenac, finding a suitable substitute, and establishing conservation breeding centers for vultures.
  • The Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2006 incorporated the Vulture Recovery Plan's recommendations. In 2006, the use of diclofenac as a veterinary drug was banned, and it was officially gazetted in 2008. Instead, the use of another drug, meloxicam, was recommended as a safer alternative.

The Latest Ban

  • In a notification dated July 31, 2023, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare extended its proactive approach to vulture conservation.
  • It banned the manufacture, sale, and distribution of ketoprofen and aceclofenac, which are other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) toxic to vultures.
  • Ketoprofen and aceclofenac can be converted to diclofenac once administered to animals, making them equally dangerous to vultures.
  • The ban on these drugs is a significant step towards safeguarding the vulture population, which continues to face threats from other lethal chemicals like nimesulide.

Experts' Views

  • Experts and researchers have expressed their satisfaction with the timely action taken by the government.
  • They stress that the successful implementation of the ban will be crucial in protecting the vultures. Additionally, they suggest extending similar safety measures to other raptor species (birds of prey) vulnerable to killer drugs.

Ketoprofen and Aceclofenac: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

  • Ketoprofen and aceclofenac are both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) commonly used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and manage various conditions.
  • These medications belong to the same class of drugs and share similarities in their pharmacological effects.
  • However, they also have distinct characteristics that make them suitable for specific medical situations.


Mechanism of Action

  • Ketoprofen works by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, which are substances involved in the inflammatory response.
  • It mainly blocks the activity of cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2), reducing the synthesis of prostaglandins and alleviating pain and inflammation.

Medical Uses

  • Ketoprofen is primarily prescribed for conditions such as arthritis, musculoskeletal disorders, and post-operative pain.
  • It is available in various formulations, including oral tablets, capsules, creams, and gels for topical application.

Side Effects

  • Common side effects of ketoprofen include stomach upset, gastrointestinal irritation, and peptic ulcers.
  • In some cases, it may cause more severe adverse reactions, such as gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney problems.


Mechanism of Action

  • Like ketoprofen, aceclofenac also acts by inhibiting the COX enzymes and reducing prostaglandin production.
  • It is considered a COX-2 selective inhibitor, which means it has a higher affinity for COX-2 enzymes, leading to reduced gastrointestinal side effects.

Medical Uses

  • Aceclofenac is used to manage pain and inflammation associated with various conditions, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • It is available as oral tablets and is commonly prescribed for short-term pain relief.

Side Effects

  • Aceclofenac is generally well-tolerated; however, some individuals may experience side effects like indigestion, nausea, and headache.
  • As with other NSAIDs, aceclofenac can potentially cause gastrointestinal issues and, rarely, severe skin reactions.

Differences between Ketoprofen and Aceclofenac

While both ketoprofen and aceclofenac belong to the NSAID class and work by inhibiting COX enzymes, there are some key differences between the two medications:

  • COX Selectivity: Ketoprofen is a non-selective COX inhibitor, affecting both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. In contrast, aceclofenac is a COX-2 selective inhibitor, which means it predominantly targets COX-2 enzymes, reducing the risk of gastrointestinal side effects.
  • Medical Uses: While both drugs are used to manage pain and inflammation, their specific medical uses may vary. Ketoprofen is often prescribed for post-operative pain, musculoskeletal disorders, and arthritis, while aceclofenac is commonly used for arthritis conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Formulations: Ketoprofen is available in various formulations, including oral tablets, capsules, creams, and gels. Aceclofenac is primarily administered as oral tablets.


The ban on ketoprofen and aceclofenac is a positive development for India's vultures, signaling a continued commitment to their conservation. As the vulture population is slow-breeding and susceptible to population crashes, such measures are essential to ensure their survival. The government's prompt action and support from various stakeholders are critical in enforcing the ban effectively and creating awareness among all concerned parties. The vulture conservation efforts set in motion since 2004 continue to evolve, demonstrating India's dedication to preserving these ecologically important birds.








Q. Which of the following statements about Ketoprofen and Aceclofenac is correct?

A) Ketoprofen is a COX-2 selective inhibitor, while Aceclofenac is a non-selective COX inhibitor.

B) Ketoprofen and Aceclofenac have the same medical uses and formulations.

C) Both Ketoprofen and Aceclofenac primarily work by inhibiting COX-2 enzymes.

D) Aceclofenac is commonly prescribed for post-operative pain, while Ketoprofen is used for arthritis conditions.

Answer: A)