British medical journal The Lancet has refused to publish India's rebuttal in connection with an article in which a drug-resistant superbug was named after New Delhi.

The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in the rebuttal, disagreed with the naming of the bacteria as New Delhi Metallo Beta-lactamase-1. However, Lancet Editor Richard Horton, while on a visit to India later, apologised for the naming.

Responding to the rebuttal, Editor of Lancet Infectious Diseases John McConnel sent a letter to the then Director of NCDC, R.L. Ichhpujani, refusing to publish the document, saying the journal had received far more submission than it had the space to publish.

Mr. McConnel's letter said:

“Thank you for submitting your manuscript to the Lancet Infectious Diseases. The journal's editors have discussed the manuscript and our decision is that it would be better placed elsewhere. We currently receive far more submissions than we have space to publish and, therefore, have to reject many otherwise worthy papers.

“We are sorry we cannot be more helpful on this occasion, and we hope you will think of us again in the future.”

The letter was dated November 2, 2010.

The Lancet first reported on the new superbug in a study titled “Emergence of a new antibiotic resistance mechanism in India, Pakistan and the U.K.: a molecular, biological and epidemiological study.” It was published online dated August 11, 2010. The Government of India protested against this.

The journal again came out with an article last week claiming to have found the presence of NDM-I in the capital's public water supply. This report was dismissed by the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry.

Keywords: LancetNCDCNDM-I