BMJ 2004; 328 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7449.1210 (Published 13 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1210

In New York, some of the smaller pharmacies are luring people with AIDS to bring their lucrative prescriptions to them, in exchange for fax machines, hairdryers, bleepers, and travel cards. The fax machines are supposed to help patients to get their prescriptions. The bleepers are used to encourage people to take their drugs on time. Arguably the travel cards could be used to help patients get to the pharmacy and back, but heaven knows how the hairdryers come into it (Guardian 20 April 2004: 14).

Here's the sort of story that could bring anxious patients rushing in, and make their doctors groan: pancreatic cancer presenting simply as a dry cough. The cancer was detected not with painless jaundice but by its metastatic spread to the lungs. Neither stopping the patient's angiotensin-1 converting enzyme inhibitor nor giving inhaled steroids and narcotics had made a difference to the cough, and all the initial chest investigations were non-diagnostic (Journal of the American Board of Family Practice 2004;17: 48-53).

How effective is the internet for communicating health information during a public health scare? One analysis of the 2001 anthrax scare, published in electronic form only, but with entirely open access in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (www.jmir.org/2004/1/e8) reports that the traditional media was the primary …

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