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BMJ 2000; 320 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7228.136/b (Published 15 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:136

UK plans dental access centres: The Department of Health is providing £340000 ($544000) for 34 more dental access centres to provide fast and flexible access to NHS dentists. Two centres were launched as pilots in 1998.

Canada to sue tobacco industry: Canada's federal government is suing major tobacco companies for allegedly conspiring to smuggle hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cigarettes into Canada, thus damaging the country's national strategy to reduce tobacco consumption.The suit seeks at least $C1bn (£444m; $711m) from RJR-Macdonald, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, several related companies, and the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council.

Hungary faces meningitis epidemic: The largest meningitis outbreak in Hungary's history has claimed at least five lives and many people have been sent to hospital. The outbreak erupted shortly before Christmas at an army barracks in central Hungary.

Cost of NHS hospital treatment varies: The cost of treatment for lower back pain that includes a stay in hospital in the NHS in England varies from £638 ($1020) to £1578, according to the Department of Health's National Schedule of Reference Costs 1999. The cost of a day case vasectomy ranged from £244 to £398, and the cost of treating an emergency admission for bronchopneumonia ranged from £828 to £1617.

MP introduces bill on paediatric prescribing: Andrew Love, Labour MP for Edmonton in North London, introduced a bill in the British parliament aimed at reducing the risk to children from unlicensed and untested medicines. The bill follows a survey showing that two thirds of children in European hospitals receive unlicensed drugs (BMJ 2000:320:79-82).

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