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Seven days in medicine: 18-24 September 2019

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l5677 (Published 26 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5677

SSRIs

Sertraline cuts anxiety more than depressive symptoms

The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) sertraline reduced anxiety and improved quality of life and self rated mental health in patients with depression, in a study suggesting that the drug was effective but not in the way researchers had expected. The University College London study, published in Lancet Psychiatry,1 found that sertraline was effective at reducing anxiety symptoms—such as nervousness, irritability, and restlessness—showing improvements after six weeks, while it took 12 weeks to show modest changes in depressive symptoms such as low mood. (Full story doi:10.1136/bmj.l5655)

Prescription charges

Penalty system must be more humane, say MPs

The current system of penalty charge notices, which is supposed to discourage people from claiming free prescriptions they are not entitled to, is “heavy handed” and needs to be “substantially overhauled,” said MPs. After reviewing the system the Commons Public Account Committee found that it “penalises those who fail to navigate the overly complex exemption criteria and neglects clear evidence of abuse by repeat offenders.” It also said that the government and NHS England had been “shockingly complacent” about problems with the process. (Full story doi:10.1136/bmj.l5660)

Brexit

UK nationals in EU would keep healthcare for six months

The UK government pledged to cover the healthcare costs of …

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