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Lack of GP cover blamed for rise in death rate at weekends

Dr John Winter wrote a spirited criticism of my article about

co-proxamol prescribing (Letters, May 28). I have to say I sympathise with his point of view.

The work we did initially was intended to reduce co-proxamol prescribing to those who felt they really needed it, not to abolish its prescribing altogether.

However, we obviously have no choice but to accept the CSM's judgment about the banning of co-proxamol to prevent the excess mortality associated with its use. With all the current controversy surrounding NSAIDs, one does wonder whether the alternatives are much safer.

When we initially set out to try to reduce co-proxamol prescribing, we were concerned that the vast majority of patients taking it would have the same views as Dr Winter. In fact, we have found only a small minority felt like that.

As I said in my article, while not wanting to belittle the very real problems these patients may have, it should not present a major problem in terms of workload. Whether or not you accept that paracetamol is as effective as co-proxamol, there is evidence to support this view.

By stating this in the letter to patients, I think it gives the best starting point in looking for an alternative to co-proxamol.

Dr P Frith

Mansfield Woodhouse

Nottinghamshire

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