August 21, 2010

Health ministry rejects ‘superbug’ report

The government has strongly refuted the study published in ‘The Lancet Infectious Diseases’, which claimed that a ‘superbug’ bacteria that creates an enzyme called New Delhi-Metallo-1 (NDM-1) has travelled to the UK with patients who went to countries like India and Pakistan for medical treatment.

Strongly objecting to the naming of this enzyme as NDM-1 and the claim that hospitals in India were not safe for treatment, the Indian health ministry said that similar plasmids have been reported in Israel, USA, Greece and even in Scotland, as the report claims.
The ministry’s health experts underlined the fact that this study was funded by the European Union and two pharmaceutical companies — Wellcome Trust and Wyeth — who produce antibiotics for the treatment of such cases.

According to VM Katoch, the director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the study presents a frightening picture that is not supported by any scientific data. ‘The conclusions of the study are scientifically invalid and contain wrong interpretations, indicating unfair bias,’ said Katoch.

According to him, plasmids present in gram negative bacteria can be transmitted among bacteria and may also encode resistance for many drugs. However, this is a phenomenon that occurs commonly in nature — in the environment, and in the intestines of humans and animals, universally.

He added that it was unfortunate that this new bug had been attached to a particular country. He said that the bug is present in nature and is a biological phenomenon.

Instead, he added, the fact that getting infected by such drug-resistant bacteria is preventable by common infection prevention strategies, should have been highlighted.

Katoch further explained that while such organisms may be circulating more commonly in the world due to international travel, to link this with the safety of hospitals in India and insinuate that India is not a safe place to visit waswrong.

The health ministry in a statement said that ‘a lot of sensation has been created by this report... The conclusions are loaded with inference that these resistance genes/organism possibly originated in India and it may not be safe for the UK patients to opt for surgery in India.’

Link: Original Article

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