Indian government denies presence of totally drug-resistant TB

The Indian government recently denied the existence of totally drug-resistant tuberculosis in that country and is reportedly pressuring the physicians who identified it to say that they were mistaken.

Portions of India's medical community are frustrated with what they say is an attempt by the health ministry to diminish the threat of TDR-TB and censure the hospital that recently reported a series of infections, according to the BMJ.

The health ministry, which undertook an independent examination of the patients' records, has said the term "totally drug-resistant" is misleading and has not been verified by the World Health Organization. The ministry also said that the Hinduja Hospital was not accredited by the government to perform drug sensitivity testing for second line TB medication. It has since classified the infections as extensively drug-resistant.

"There are 27 WHO-designated Intermediate Reference National Labs in the country," Dr. Zarir Udwadia, a chest physician from Hinduja hospital, said, reports. "Hinduja lab is one of them. We expect the government authorities to admit that a decade of neglect of MDR-TB patients has resulted in TDR-TB."

The World Health Organization has asked that physicians stick to using the acronym XDR, or extensively drug-resistant, when referring to even the most resistant TB cases and has no definition for TDR. The WHO's rationale rests on the notion that it would impossible to test a patient against every conceivable drug combination.

"This seems like an attempt to question the messenger," Dr. Bobby John, the president of Global Health Advocates, said, Wired reports. GHA has been tracking India's national TB control program.

In the meantime, Indian physicians have found more possible TDR-TB cases and the Indian state where TDR-TB was identified has established an isolation sanatorium in a small town.