Closer monitoring and greater pharmacist involvement may help improve adherence to oral anticancer medications, according to research presented at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. Lead author Marjorie Adams Curry, PharmD, of the Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Health System in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues reported that it may be possible to adopt simple, low-cost interventions to improve adherence with oral anticancer medications.  

In recent years, oral anticancer medications have significantly reduced the burden of cancer treatment. However, they also have created new challenges, specifically inregards to patient adherence. With this in mind, the researchers adopted a new initiative with the goal of improving patient adherence by 30 percentage points.

The researchers conducted a cause and effect analysis and identified significant barriers to adherence such as a lack of reminders and increased toxicities. The analysis led to the development of new strategies that included low cost adherence aids and a pharmacist-led adherence program. 

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The study analyzed 50 patients prior to implementation of the initiative and 52 patients after implementation. Patients participating in the initiative were consulted by a pharmacist for education and assistance with drug procurement. The intervention component consisted of one-on-one education, drug information handouts, a treatment calendar, and a pillbox filled by the pharmacist. In addition, patients received mid-cycle adherence and toxicity assessments by the pharmacists. Ultimately, the researchers found that the program increased adherence from 30% to 85% within 2 years, which exceeded their initial goal for the program.


Curry MA, Redelico T, Terrell C, et al. Adherence to oral anticancer medications after implementation of an ambulatory adherence program at a large urban academic hospital. J Clin Oncol. 2018;36(suppl):Abstr 6591.