Top 5 News Articles of 2020 Beyond COVID-19

December 22, 2020
Mary Caffrey

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is the biggest health care story of all time, but that doesn’t mean 2020 didn’t bring other medical and science news. Here are the most-read news articles on AJMC.com for the year on topics other than COVID-19.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is the biggest health care story of all time, but that doesn’t mean 2020 didn’t bring other medical and science news. Here are the most-read news articles on AJMC.com for the year on topics other than COVID-19.

5. Review of Ketamine in ED for Acute Pain Finds Similar Efficacy to Other Pain Relief

This October review that appeared in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine pooled data from 8 randomized trials and found that low-dose ketamine can be used in place of opioids for patients with acute pain who seek care in the emergency department (ED). The report evaluated the share of patients who had nausea and hypoxia, the level of pain control, and the need for rescue medication in comparing ketamine with morphine. In the first hour, there was no difference in pain scores between the 2 medications; there was a slight difference favoring morphine in the second hour.

Click here for the full article.

4. Fish Oil Debate Continues as Study Finds No Risk Reduction From Omega-3 Combo

The presentation of the STRENGTH trial during the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions devolved into a daylong Twitter frenzy in November, after an author from Cleveland Clinic presented results showing a regimen of 2 common omega-3 fatty acids did not reduce the risk of cardiac events. But the presentation did not stop there: the investigators challenged the results of the REDUCE-IT trial, which previously found that icosapent ethyl reduced initial cardiac events by 25%. The lead investigator of REDUCE-IT and others noted that icosapent ethyl, which is purified EPA, and the omega-3 fatty acid pill in STRENGTH are not the same therapy. Icosapent ethyl was approved by the FDA in December 2019 as an add-on therapy to reduce cardiovascular risk.

Click here for the full article.

3. FDA Steps Up Warning for Montelukast for Risk of Mental Health Side Effects

In early March, FDA required a boxed warning for montelukast (Singulair) due to the risk of neuropsychiatric events associated with the drug. The warning was mandated due to the risk of severe mental health side effects, including thoughts of suicide, that are associated with the allergy and asthma drug. FDA’s decision to upgrade prior warnings came after a panel of outside experts reviewed data from the agency’s adverse event reporting system and observational studies.

Click here for the full article.

2. FDA Recalls All Ranitidine (Zantac) Products, Citing Increased Risk of Cancer

In April, FDA requested that all ranitidine (Zantac) products be pulled off the market immediately. The recall covered both prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine drugs, which are commonly indicated for heartburn, as ongoing investigations found that levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable human carcinogen, increased over time. The increases could occur when the products are stored at higher than room temperatures and may result in consumer exposure to unacceptable levels of this impurity. The New York Times recently reported that the recall, coupled with increased use of over-the-counter antacids during the pandemic, has led to shortages.

Click here for the full article.

1. FDA's Revised Blood Donation Guidance for Gay Men Still Courts Controversy

By far the most-read news item of the year that did not directly involve COVID-19 concerned FDA’s decision to relax restrictions on gay men being allowed to donate blood. In April, FDA announced that instead of waiting 1 year, if a man has had sex with another man, he needed to wait 3 months to donate blood. The easing of restrictions came after more than 2000 blood drives were cancelled in March as the nation locked down. But many gay rights groups were less than enthusiastic about FDA’s move, saying the updated policy still reflected prejudices that stemmed from the height of the AIDS crisis, when less was known about HIV transmission.

Click here for the full article.