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Adverse reaction.

Would-be patients - and that means of all us - will be reacting strongly today to research findings that more than 10,000 patients a year may be dying because of a bad reaction to medication.

Despite all the well-publicised difficulties of the NHS, we still retain a belief in the capacity of the system to deliver - slowly perhaps but surely.

That belief will have been weakened by the publication in the British Medical Journal of the research from experts at Liverpool University.

It suggests that adverse drug reactions to medicines including aspirin and anti-depressants accounted for one in 16 hospital admissions.

This may be costing the NHS pounds 466m a year and at any one time filling the equivalent of up to seven 800-bed hospitals. Their findings are backed up the Medical Defence Union.

One solution, suggest the researchers, lies in better prescribing patterns and here it is suggested that there may be a key role to be played by GPs.

It is estimated that 72% of the adverse reactions were "definitely" or "possibly" avoidable with better prescribing patterns.

Meanwhile the Department of Health makes the valid point that despite extensive pre-clinical work in animals, and the clinical trials in patients, certain adverse effects may not be detected until a very large number of people have received the medicine.

Often in the health service these days the patients' needs seem to run at cross-purposes to the imperative to keep costs under control.

This time both interests can be served by quick action. The patients are watching and waiting.

Iraqi hope

FEW clues yesterday when Saddam Hussein appeared in court in Baghdad with 11 others to face seven broad charges.

That the former dictator was again well-dressed and with his beard well trimmed was a good sign. He may be facing the death penalty but civility and law appears to be returning to Iraq under the fledgling new regime.

The case itself may well take years to settle. But perhaps in the immediate struggle between chaos and anarchy in that troubled country, the good decent citizens of Iraq now have compelling evidence of the determination and good faith of the democrats and will repay that at the coming elections.

It is a good beginning .
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jul 2, 2004
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