Letters: Where paracetamol fails to help patients

Sir: The otherwise excellent article by John Emsley on paracetamol and its dangers (21 October) omits one very important fact about paracetamol: it is a very poor anti-inflammatory drug and so differs from aspirin and the other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Thus, though it can bring down body temperature (antipyretic) and is also an analgesic (pain killer) it cannot reduce inflammation. Thus its use as a painkiller where the pain is due to inflammation or tissue damage is probably not very sensible. Once it has been broken down in the body, if the inflammation is still present, the pain will return. Under these circumstances taking too many tablets can easily occur, particularly if the inflammatory response is the cause of the pain.

Professor A S MILTON

Whaddon, Cambridgeshire