Pharmacy has had a roller-coaster 12 months, from the appointment of a new pharmacy minister after June’s snap general election, to the publication of draft legislation to end the criminalisation of dispensing errors in November. But the top five most-read opinion pieces from The Pharmaceutical Journal, and our sister journal Clinical Pharmacist, suggest that resilient pharmacists have been doing what they do best: improving their knowledge of medicines and helping patients achieve the best outcomes.
Top five opinion pieces
- The cholesterol and calorie hypotheses are both dead — it is time to focus on the real culprit: insulin resistance (insight)
This piece from influential cardiologist Aseem Malhotra made headlines in the Daily Express and iNews in July 2017 when it criticised the aggressive lowering of LDL-cholesterol with statin treatment — the most commonly prescribed drugs in the UK. Malhotra and his co-authors say we must move away from the idea of ‘bad’ cholesterol and focus on tackling insulin resistance, the phenomenon that’s really behind heart disease.
- Why pharmacists need to re-evaluate what information they provide to patients (comment)
Prescribing or dispensing practitioners may say that a patient has given consent to a treatment when they have accepted the medicine; and patients receive direction through box labels and information leaflets. But pharmacist Nina Barnett and barrister Daniel Sokol say previous court cases concerning informed consent — such as 2015’s Montgomery vs Lanarkshire Health Board — raise questions about what consent means for pharmacists, medicines and prescribing.
- Why biosimilars should be interchangeable with biologics (insight)
An audit published in The BMJ in 2016 suggested that if all patients treated with a monoclonal antibody received biosimilars, the NHS would save £3m a year. Biosimilars continue to receive media attention in 2017. Alan Cassels, drug policy researcher at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, shares the evidence to prove that biosimiliars can be interchangeable with biologics — and with the same outcomes.
- Osteoporosis treatment gap comes at a high price (insight)
Reports of rare side effects and inaccurate media coverage of drugs for osteoporosis cause fear and refusal of treatment. Use of the drugs fell by 50% between 2008 and 2012 in United States, and physicians say the trend is continuing. E Michael Lewiecki, osteoporosis director at the New Mexico Clinical Research and Osteoporosis Center, explains how pharmacists can communicate with patients, increase treatment uptake and reduce the risk of fractures.
- Reclassifying erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil as a P medicine not such a huge leap (editorial)
In May 2017, we advocated for Viagra’s switch from a prescription-only medicine to one available over the counter after a discussion with a pharmacist. The Pharmaceutical Journal argued that reclassification would offer men a convenient, safe and less intimidating channel through which to seek professional advice and treatment for erectile dysfunction. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency announced its decision to formally reclassify sildenafil in November 2017, after an assessment of its safety and a public consultation.
Still popular from 2016