Oncology pharmacists can also help patients in identifying and mitigating barriers to medication access. In one case, a patient with prostate cancer was prescribed a drug with a co-pay of $2196 per month. Upon hearing the news, the pharmacist worked with the multidisciplinary team’s financial advisor to identify a $6500 grant that reduced the drug’s co-pay to $500. “We keep a running log, and as that grant money starts to trickle down and run out, we start the same process all over, looking at grants to see if anything has opened up that we can apply for. If not, we’ll reach out to the manufacturer for assistance,” said Jeanie Patrick, PharmD, BCOP, also an oncology pharmacist at Cancer Care Center.4

On multidisciplinary teams BCOPs are relied heavily upon by the clinical team for their expertise in cancer medicine and for the vital patient-specific information they provide. They are knowledgeable, collaborative team players that play a key role in leading evidenced-based decisions to improve patient care.2 Oncology pharmacists are also heavily relied upon by their patients for a level of personalized health care and guidance that makes cancer treatment just a little bit easier for all involved. “I was not only working to the top of my ability, but I knew the appreciation that the patient felt for me and my role. It was an amazing experience to have as any type of healthcare professional.” said Kristen Rychalsky, PharmD, BCOP, an oncology pharmacist at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven in Connecticut.4

References

1. Mackler E, Segal EM, Muluneh B, Jeffers K, Carmichael J. 2018 Hematology/Oncology Pharmacist Association best practices for the management of oral oncolytic therapy: pharmacy practice standard. J Oncol Pract. 2019;15(4):e346-e355.

2. The role of hematology/oncology pharmacists. HOPA Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association website. http://www.hoparx.org/images/hopa/advocacy/Issue-Briefs/HOPA-_About_Hem_Onc_Pharmacist_Issue_Brief.pdf.  Approved August 22, 2014. Accessed April 17, 2019.

3. Ignoffo R, Knapp K, Barnett M, et al. Board-certified oncology pharmacists: their potential contribution to reducing a shortfall in oncology patient visits. J Oncol Pract. 2019;12(4):e359-e368.

4. Duff BL. What it’s like to be an oncology pharmacist. Drug Topics. https://www.drugtopics.com/clinical-pharmacology/what-its-be-oncology-pharmacist. Accessed April 17, 2019.

5. Ma CSJ. Role of pharmacists in optimizing the use of anticancer drugs in the clinical setting. Integr Pharm Res Pract. 2014;2014(3):11-24.

6. Streicher C, Daulange A. Implementation of pharmacist consultations as part of a multidisciplinary consultation program for patients with oral anticancer agent: a descriptive study. Eur J Oncol Pharm. 2018;1(2):e0003.

7. Walter C, Mellor JD, Rice C, et al. Impact of a specialist clinical cancer pharmacist at a multidisciplinary lung cancer clinic. Asia Pac J Clin Oncol. 2016;12(3):e367-e374.