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Seven days in medicine: 24 to 30 January 2018

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k468 (Published 01 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k468

Therapeutics

Government reviews addiction to prescribed drugs

The growing problem of dependence and addiction to prescription drugs will be the focus of an independent evidence review by Public Health England, reporting in early 2019. Covering benzodiazepines and z-drugs, pregabalin and gabapentin, opioid pain medicines, and antidepressants, it will ask why one in 11 patients (8.9%) has one of these drugs prescribed, why prescribing addictive medicines has risen 3% in five years, and why antidepressant prescriptions in England have more than doubled in 10 years. Steve Brine, public health minister, said, “We know this is a huge problem in other countries like the US—and we must absolutely make sure it doesn’t become one here.”

Use paracetamol for most cases of sore throat

Doctors should not prescribe antibiotics for most cases of acute sore throat, including pharyngitis and tonsillitis, says guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. It cites research from 2014, which found that 60% of patients who attend general practice with a sore throat leave with a prescription for antibiotics. Patients should be encouraged instead to take paracetamol or ibuprofen, says the guidance, and they can be advised that lozenges containing a local anaesthetic, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or an antiseptic may reduce pain slightly. (Full story doi:10.1136/bmj.k418)

NHS

Pressure stabilises but remains intense

The proportion of patients seen within four hours of arriving in …

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