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Editor's Choice

A dose of humility

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 16 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h3857
  1. Fiona Godlee, editor, The BMJ
  1. fgodlee{at}

Paracetamol has come in for a bit of a kicking in recent months (doi:10.1136/bmj.h1186). So we asked James Dear and colleagues to comment (doi:10.1136/bmj.h3705). They confirm that important questions about this most commonly used drug remain unanswered. The evidence of effectiveness is patchy and depends on the condition: it’s good for postoperative dental pain; okay for headache, though not as good as other analgesics; of small and probably clinically irrelevant benefit for hip and knee pain; no better than placebo for back pain; and without enough evidence of benefit for the common cold. As for its safety, nearly 60 years of widespread use are reassuring. But there are simmering concerns …

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