Our story on the removal of domperidone from pharmacy shelves proved to be the most popular online news article in 2014. The reclassification of the antiemetic to a prescription only medicine had a direct impact on UK pharmacists and their patients – removing what was arguably the only real over-the-counter (OTC) option for patients seeking relief from nausea and vomiting.
The move was not entirely unexpected – a safety review by the European Medicines Agency had found that domperidone was associated with a small increased risk of serious cardiac side effects. Following the review, UK medicines regulators first restricted the drug’s use and then concluded that, although domperidone was safe for supply under medical supervision, pharmacists would not be able to quickly and accurately assess which patients could use it safely.
Pharmacists were asked to act immediately – being given 48 hours to remove OTC domperidone from their shelves. Was the decision a blow to the profession? Or were pharmacists thankful that there were increased safeguards around a potentially dangerous medicine? Whatever the consensus, pharmacists were clearly keen to absorb the news.
Another story that affected the day-to-day lives of Pharmaceutical Journal readers was the news that the profession’s regulator — the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) — was to make the registration assessment for pharmacists more clinically focused — our second most popular story of 2014. The move would have understandably piqued the interest of our student readership, known for their online presence. But it also gave insight to our wider audience into the direction of travel of the profession’s regulator.
Our third most popular story of 2014 was a news in brief — its headline declaring: ‘Family to take civil action after dispensing error death’. The succinct prÃ©cis understandably caught the imagination of our readers — the phrase ‘There but for the grace of god’ was no doubt on many pharmacists’ lips. The announcement from the patient’s family had followed news that the Crown Prosecution Service would not take action against the pharmacist involved in the dispensing error.
Another attention grabbing headline — ‘World’s most expensive drug gets green light from NICE’ — helped our story about the endorsement of eculizumab (Alexion’s Soliris) climb our list of most popular news. Most pharmacists are unlikely to come across the drug, which is used to treat aHUS, a very rare blood condition that causes kidney failure — but curiosity about which drug should hold the ‘world’s most expensive’ title no doubt drew readers in.
Professional matters affecting pharmacists were at the heart of our next two most well read news stories — the first highlighting the government’s intention not to cap pharmacy student numbers and the second reporting the views of a leading civil servant that science should no longer be the focus of the Master of Pharmacy degree.
It is clear that readers are hungry for stories that impact on either the professional lives of pharmacists or on the clinical management of patients, a message that will inform the delivery of our news service.
Top 10 news stories: