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Top ten features of 2019

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Top ten features in 2019

Source: Shutterstock.com/JL; Simone van der Koelen/Unsplash; JL; Andrea Ucini

Among our most-read features in 2019 was an investigation into whether pharmacists are dispensing too many multicompartment compliance aids (MCAs), and another on why thousands of patients are being left on potentially risky drug combinations involving anticoagulants.

Investigative features are a relatively new venture for The Pharmaceutical Journal and we are planning to do more in 2020, so if you have any burning issues that you think we should delve into then please get in touch.

Other popular feature topics in 2019 included the dangers of the popular diet drug 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP), the misuse of over-the-counter (OTC) opioids, and how pharmacists can help patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) to reverse their condition by modifying their diet.

Top of this year’s hits was a feature on how years of legal battle over NHS prescribing of Lyrica (Pfizer’s branded version of pregabalin) culminated in the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to reject Pfizer’s final appeal for patent protection. The verdict allayed pharmacists’ fears of being caught in litigious crossfire if they dispensed generic pregabalin to treat neuropathic pain, instead of Lyrica, and sparked a wider debate around second medical use patents and drug repurposing.

Also popular was our new ‘Everything you need to know about’ series, featuring articles on medical cannabis and serious shortage protocols, both of which made it into the most viewed features in 2019.

The top ten features published in 2019 were:

10. Everything you need to know about serious shortage protocols

Legislation came into force in February 2019 allowing pharmacists to substitute a different medicine to the one prescribed in the event of a serious shortage.

9. Fish oils for cardiovascular disease: a turning point? 

The use of fish oils to improve cardiovascular health has been in and out of favour for decades, but positive results from a recent trial of Amarin’s Vascepa have created quite a stir — particularly as they come after a set of negative findings in 2018.

8. Forgotten patients: thousands left on risky anticoagulant combinations 

Combinations of drugs involving anticoagulants are one of the most frequent causes of medicine-related hospital admissions, but pharmacists can help reduce the risk.

7. Are we dispensing too many multicompartment compliance aids? 

Millions of MCAs are handed out by pharmacists each year, but evidence for their benefits is hard to find. Few patients are assessed before being given an MCA and concerns are building over potential errors and harms.

6. What does the NHS long-term plan mean for pharmacy? 

While pharmacy features prominently as a way to boost primary care and improve the use of medicines in the health service in England, there are concerns that the implementation of this ten-year plan will not live up to the hype.

5. Everything you need to know about medical cannabis 

Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK on 1 November 2018, but the regulations around its use and supply remain strict. This article gives an update about how it is being used in the NHS and what benefits it may or may not offer.

4. Is a complete ban on OTC opioids the solution? 

Misuse of OTC opioids often slips under the radar. Some experts say the UK should follow other countries and ban them altogether, but others argue that there is more that pharmacists can do to help tackle this problem.

3. Reversing type 2 diabetes: how pharmacists are helping patients to go drug-free 

Pharmacists can help patients with T2DM adopt a low-carbohydrate diet and reduce their medicines load.

2. DNP: the dangerous diet pill pharmacists should know about 

As concerns over deaths related to the diet pill DNP increase, healthcare professionals — including pharmacists — are being called on to play their part in raising awareness and preventing DNP-related harm.

1. How the pregabalin case has set back drug repurposing 

The 2018 Supreme Court verdict on Pfizer’s second patent for Lyrica has drawn attention to the limitations of the current framework for extending the usefulness of existing treatments.

If you have suggestions for topics that you would like us to cover in the features section, please send an email to dawn.connelly@rpharms.com or tweet to @DawnConnelly73.

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