Read all about it: the top 10 features of 2021

Our array of topical, detailed analyses makes for an impressive set of features to look back on from 2021.
collage of cartoon vaccine, lateral flow test, asthma inhaler with black mist coming out, cartoon woman's face with tablets as spots, NICE building, pharmacy cross with help wanted stamped on it

From the reliability of lateral flow tests — our most popular feature of all time with over 1.1 million page views — to the science and efficacy of the vaccines, this year’s top features are dominated by COVID-19 once again.

Our in-depth overview of COVID-19 therapy trials, which we first published in mid-2020 and have kept up to date throughout the pandemic, has remained popular with readers as it continues to make sense of the evidence for almost 70 potential treatments. 

The top 10 list also includes an eclectic mix of investigations, for example on whether liquid morphine should be reclassified and on whether we are setting the wrong targets for green inhalers, and in-depth features on topical issues, such as CAR-T therapy and antibiotic resistance.

If there any topics that you would like us to cover in 2022, then do contact features editor Dawn Connelly @DawnConnelly73 or

1. How reliable are lateral flow COVID-19 tests? — Julia Robinson

In May 2021, as debate raged on the accuracy of lateral flow tests and the value of this kind of mass testing, we published a feature that weighed up the current evidence around their reliability and what pharmacists need to know about them.

2. Everything you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines — Dawn Connelly

This feature, which was first published in October 2020 and is regularly updated, details essential information on the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines backed by the UK government and their effect on disease transmission and new variants.

3. Everything you need to know about the COVID-19 therapy trials — Julia Robinson

Numerous medicines are being trialled as potential treatments for COVID-19 and this table synthesises and maintains the very latest evidence for the most promising therapies.

4. Everything you need to know about COVID-19 antibody tests — Carolyn Wickware

This feature, published in July 2021, just after the General Pharmaceutical Council instructed pharmacies to stop selling antibody tests, looks at their accuracy, why pharmacies cannot sell them and the government’s plans for this type of test.

5. There is an official shortage of pharmacists: what now? — Corrinne Burns

The inclusion of pharmacists on the Home Office’s shortage occupation list in March 2021 prompted renewed questions about the future of the workforce, which are addressed in this feature published the following month.

6. Investigation: should liquid morphine be reclassified? — Carolyn Wickware

In September 2021, our analysis of ‘prevention of future deaths’ reports showed that Oramorph or oral morphine sulphate solution was directly linked to the cause of death in 13 cases since 2013 but that concerns raised by coroners have gone unheard.

7. Do long-term antibiotics for acne fuel antimicrobial resistance? — Afsaneh Gray

Experts are concerned about the effect prolonged prescription of antibiotics for acne could be having on antimicrobial stewardship efforts. This feature, published in February 2021, looks at how some healthcare professionals believe antibiotic use could be reduced with earlier, pharmacist-led interventions.

8. Greener inhalers: are we setting the wrong targets? — Julia Robinson

A primary care network incentive, adopted in October 2021, encourages switching patients from metered-dose inhalers to dry powder inhalers and soft mist inhalers in order to reduce emissions. This prompted our feature later that month, which investigates why the incentive has generated heated debate among respiratory specialists.

9. ‘Beyond our wildest dreams’ — CAR-T therapies in multiple myeloma — Michele Solis

CAR-T therapies have been licensed in the UK since 2018 for the treatment of B cell lymphoma. But, as we detail in this feature that kicked off the year in January, excitement around CAR-T continues to grow as positive results emerge for its use in multiple myeloma, and potentially in solid tumours too.

10. What is ‘chronic primary pain’ and why is NICE guidance on it causing controversy? — Julia Robinson

New guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in April 2021 defined pain with no identifiable underlying cause as ‘chronic primary pain’. In this feature, we reveal concerns that the guideline could adversely affect patient care.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Read all about it: the top 10 features of 2021;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.120799

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