Lancet 23 Dec 2006

2195 How safe is paracetamol? This editorial highlights the study which showed that at therapeutic (4G/day) doses it can cause ALT elevation in some normal subjects (JAMA 2006;296:87), but I think we need to be a bit more worried about the evidence linking it with asthma exacerbations too.

The dreadful influenza pandemic of 1918-20 continues to haunt us as we look out for its inevitable successor. This paper looks at the information we have about its epidemiology. It differed from other recorded pandemics in its size, virulence, and predilection for killing young adults. The only constant feature of flu plagues is that they tend to kill poor people most.

This study of the response to last year’s London bombings is fairly reassuring; the surge capacity of local hospitals proved adequate, and, contrary to popular myth, the quantity of blood transfused hardly differed from the daily average.

For forty years, people in Eastern Europe led lives which were drab, stultifying, sometimes harsh but usually safe. Now they dash around optimistically but often fall prey to unemployment, cheap alcohol and badly designed traffic systems. Their accident rates are climbing while ours are falling. Will the market bring solutions, or are they dispensable?