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Govt condemns naming of superbug, refutes its linkage

The Ministry of Health protested against the British study which blamed India for exporting a multiple drug-resistant superbug to the rest of the world.

india Updated: Aug 13, 2010 11:38 IST

The Ministry of Health protested against a British study which blamed India for exporting a multiple drug-resistant superbug to the rest of the world.

"India strongly refutes the naming of this enzyme as New Delhi metallo beta lactamase (NDM-1) and also refutes that hospitals in India are not safe for treatment, including medical tourism," a statement from the Union Health Ministry said.

"It is ridiculous to call it NDM-1 when none of the samples that tested positive were picked in New Delhi," said Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman, Medanta-The Medicity, who called it a commercially-motivated campaign to hurt India's Rs 1,200-crore medical tourism industry.

He got support from Dr V M Katoch, secretary, department of health research.

"Getting infection by such drug-resistant bacteria is a matter of chance and can happen anywhere. A national resistance alert was issued in UK hospitals in July 2009, and similar alert has been sounded now. Similar superbugs have been reported from Israel, US, Greece and Scotland..." said Dr Katoch.

The Government said that there was a conflict of interest in the publication of the report, as the study was funded by the European Union and two pharma companies - Wellcome Trust and Wyeth - who produce the antibiotics for treatment of such cases, according to reports.

According to reports, the superbug is present in the UK and Europe.

Sources say Karthikeyan K Kumaraswamy, the scientist who was heading the study, received a travel grant from Wyeth. David M Livermore, another scientist on the team, received conference support from numerous pharma companies and also holds shares in AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer, Dechra and GlaxoSmithKline and as Enduring Attorney, manages more holdings in GlaxoSmithKline and Eco Animal.

The Government has also asked for a detailed report from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases and the Director General of Health Services on the NDM1 superbug.

The Government has said that the conclusions of the study that hospitals in India were not safe for treatment were totally baseless and were likely to dent the prospects of medical tourism in the country.

First Published: Aug 13, 2010 10:56 IST