The pharmacokinetics of meloxicam in vultures

V Naidoo, K Wolter, A D Cromarty, P Bartels, L Bekker, L McGaw, M A Taggart, R Cuthbert, G E Swan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Vulture populations across the Asian subcontinent have declined dramatically in the last 15 years and are now on the verge of extinction. Although the cause of the population decline was initially unknown, the decrease has recently been conclusively linked to the use of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac in cattle that inadvertently ended up in the vulture food chain. With the vulture numbers continuing to decline by up to 48% a year, the Indian, Nepali and Pakistan governments have recently banned the manufacture and importation of veterinary diclofenac. They have also suggested meloxicam as an alternate anti-inflammatory for use in cattle. This recommendation was based on extensive acute safety studies in the African White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus), which evaluated worst case scenarios of maximum intake based on a once in three day feeding pattern. However, the possible cumulative pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic effects in vultures receiving multiple daily doses of meloxicam over time were not assessed. At present very little pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic information is available to add further support for the safety of meloxicam in this animal species. This article discusses the oral and intramuscular pharmacokinetics of meloxicam in Cape Griffon vultures (Gyps coprotheres). Therapeutic drug monitoring was also undertaken in White-backed, Egyptian (Neophron pernopterus) and one Lappet Faced vulture (Torgos tracheliotos). In all these species, meloxicam was characterized by a short half-life of elimination. The rapid metabolism of meloxicam in combination with a short duration of effect in the studied species Gyps vultures shown in this study makes it unlikely that the drug could accumulate. This confirms the safety of repeated exposure to meloxicam in vultures of this genus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-34
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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