2016 has been a turbulent year, both within and outside of the pharmacy profession, but, as always, clinical topics have continued to be popular among readers of The Pharmaceutical Journal. Features about alopecia, chronic fatigue syndrome and pain were among the most read of those published online in 2016. And the most viewed infographics addressed topics including new oral anticoagulants for stroke prevention, sales of over-the-counter medicines, and the development and safety of proton pump inhibitors.
Top five features published in 2015
There are no clinically proven therapies for the autoimmune hair loss disease alopecia areata, which usually strikes before the age of 30 and affects one or two people in every 1,000. Through talking to researchers in the field, this feature explains what we know about the pathology of alopecia, why current treatments don’t work and how researchers are exploiting recent genetic discoveries to find new treatment targets. It also addresses the need for backing from the pharmaceutical industry in order to bring these potential drugs to market.
Chronic fatigue syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis, an illness that affects around 250,000 people in the UK, has been largely dismissed as psychological. But recent trials of antiviral and immunosuppressant drugs have yielded encouraging results, suggesting a complex disease mechanism at play. In this feature, researchers describe how they hope to target this disease mechanism using currently available medicines.
Following intriguing genetic discoveries in people with extreme sensitivity to pain, as well as some families who feel no pain at all, researchers and drug companies are optimistic that blocking a sodium channel called Nav1.7 may lead to a new generation of more sophisticated painkillers. This feature interviews key researchers in the field about their efforts to develop Nav1.7 blockers, and examines the debate about the underlying mechanism of Nav1.7 in pain.
A facility in Warrington is using automated assembly lines and robotics to prepare prescriptions for a handful of community pharmacies in the north of England. This feature looks at the pros, cons and unanswered questions about this new model of dispensing medicines, which challenges the traditional role of community pharmacies but could increase efficiencies and reduce errors, as well as give pharmacists more time to deliver clinical services.
Cases of Lyme disease appear to be rising but there are still many unanswered questions about the condition, its diagnosis and the available treatment options. This feature looks at the pathology and complex symptoms of Lyme disease, as well as problems with diagnosing the condition and the debate about how long to treat it for. It also highlights current research projects that hope to yield better treatment options for this mysterious disease.
Top three infographics published in 2015
Around 12,500 strokes are caused by atrial fibrillation (AF) in the UK each year, and 7,100 of these are preventable with appropriate anticoagulation. Four new oral anticoagulants (NOACs) are now available in the UK in addition to warfarin. This infographic illustrates the mechanism of action of warfarin and the NOACs, as well as giving information on their development, pharmacokinetics and usage.
The over-the-counter products market grew by 2.5% in 2015 to reach £2.55bn, with painkillers accounting for 23.2% of sales, followed by cough and cold remedies (18.7%) and skin treatments (17.8%). This infographic breaks down the market in terms of sales by category and lists the top 50 best-selling brands.
Since the discovery of omeprazole in 1979, dispensing of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) in England has increased more than 100-fold, and several products are now available without prescription. Although PPIs are effective and generally well tolerated, observational studies suggest an association with several adverse effects. This infographic chronicles key regulatory developments and safety studies, and presents usage data for PPIs between 1991 and 2015.