E-cigarettes, uncapped pharmacy student numbers and Ebola were among the most read and commented on topics in the opinion section in 2014.
Since the relaunch of The Pharmaceutical Journal in July last year, a new section was created to house all opinion-related content. These include comment pieces, interviews, correspondence, editorials, books and arts, blogs and obituaries.
Below are the top 5 most read comment pieces on this website in 2014. Some of these will come as no surprise while others probably attracted interest due to the controversial topic being discussed.
The rise in popularity of e-cigarettes has created polarised views of their place in healthcare. Some view them as a gateway to smoking, while others see it as an aid to help smokers reduce their smoking or quit. David Phizackerley, deputy editor of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, in a letter to us, said: “E-cigarettes have been welcomed as a safer option than smoking tobacco, it is important that we recognise the limitations in our knowledge and understanding of the benefits and harms associated with their use.” One letter from a pharmacist and smoking cessation adviser, argued positively for e-cigarettes, and this was picked up The I newspaper in the opinion matrix section on 27 November 2014.
The decision by the government not to control pharmacy student numbers, despite strong advocacy by the profession, has caused disbelief and outrage. There was cynicism from the profession that those working in academia would be against a cap on numbers so we decided to invite one senior academic to voice his views on the matter. This topic has attracted a number of letters to the journal.
David Nutt is no stranger to controversy. When he was chairman on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Nutt repeatedly clashed with government ministers over issues of drug harm and classification and was subsequently sacked. However, Nutt is a renowned psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist and, with a growing number of countries legalising the use of medicinal cannabis, it was time to bring the debate to readers.
Ebola was in the headlines for much of 2014. We were able to get in contact with someone on the ground in Sierra Leone to write this piece arguing for more to be done internationally to improve the capabilities of the local pharmacy workforce.
Anthony Cox, pharmacist academic and member of the English Pharmacy Board, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, argued that pharmacists should leave quackery in the past and focus on evidence of efficacy when selling over-the-counter drugs. This piece was subsequently picked up by the Daily Mail and quoted in one of its stories.