`Ulterior motive behind superbug claim`

Last Updated: Aug 14, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

New Delhi: Incensed by reports that a
drug resistant superbug has been traced to India, Government
on Friday said there was a need to find out whether some "ulterior
motives" were behind the claim as there was inadequate proof
to prove that it had originated from this country.

"The reasoning that has been given, that the patients
went from India and Pakistan to London... but this has not
been mentioned that whether the patient who was seen in London
was tested for having it before coming to India. This has not
been mentioned," Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told
reporters outside Parliament.

Questioning the funding of scientists who claimed the
presence of the superbug, he said, "The scientists were funded
by whom? They were funded by one pharmaceutical company and
some are associates of pharmaceutical companies. The company
itself makes antibiotics".

Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi said, there
was a need to find whether some "ulterior motives" were behind
the claim.

"We are all concerned about it. Superbug (plasmid) is a
global phenomenon. It is not area or country specific. I can
tell you this with all the responsibility under my command.

"You have read that Kumarswamy Kartikan, one of the
co-authors of the report has denied, has disassociated from
this report," he said.

Indicating a conspiracy, he said "...obviously, we have
to find out if there are some kind of ulterior motives or not
of some pharmaceutical industries as well. I personally feel
that sometimes, some things are commercially motivated. So we
ought to get into the detail and depth of it. As a country we
cannot take anything lying down."

He said as far as drug resistance is concerned, it was
a "separate issue."

Saying it was not a right thing to call the bug after
New Delhi, he claimed it was given the name two years back.

"It is like HIV. As far as my information is concerned,
the first patient of HIV was in America. Can we say it has
originated in America? So instead of HIV, can we say America
NMD or something like that," he said in an apparent dig at
Western researchers.

A paper tracing the bug`s origin to India was published
in scientific journal `Lancet`. It said the new superbug,
which is said to be resistant even to most powerful
antibiotics, has entered UK hospitals and is travelling with
patients who had gone to countries like India and Pakistan for
surgical treatments.

Meanwhile, members of National Executive of Hospital
Infection Society-India and Indian Association of Medical
Microbiologists (Delhi Chapter) said all major hospitals in
India have well defined Hospital Infection Control programmes.

Moreover, in many hospitals in India the infection
indices are now monitored using NHSN data as a benchmarking
tool as per international standards, they added.

PTI