How Can Pharmacists Improve Medication Adherence to Oral Oncolytics?

MARCH 19, 2018

At the 2018 National Community Oncology Dispensing Association (NCODA) Spring Summit, Ali McBride, PharmD, MS, BCPS, BCOP, explains what strategies can help ensure patients are adherent to oral chemotherapy regimens.


"We actually work with our pharmacists, and our clinical pharmacists are in-clinic at my site, and what they do is they work with our nurses, nurse practitioners, and also our physicians doing telephone discharge phone call follow ups to newly-diagnosed patients coming out of hospital addressing: 'did they get their medications?' 'are they on the right medications?' 'do they even know how to take their medications?'. This pilot program, which is now expanding, has really addressed a critical need for adherence issues. One of the things that we're finding out is, even at the time of discharge, patients don't know what their medications are. They've already been through a horrific event - they've been diagnosed with cancer, sometimes in an inpatient setting, and now sometime tells them to take a pill. But they're on 10, 15 other supportive care pills as well. When they get that prescription, sometimes they don't have that prescription there for them.

So by doing or enacting adherence phone call follow-ups and discharge phone call follow-ups, we've actually been growing our patient understanding but also increasing patient ahdernece. In addition, we also have data from our breast cancer area, where we've also been doing adherence phone call follow-ups and monthly check-ups with our patients as well. So really adding to the education piece, but looking forward to a lot of the new entities coming along with these oral therapies.

I think the one thing right now where we're seeing a change is the combination of both the intravenous, or parenteral medicaiton, and the oral medication. So this provides a very different discussion piece because the patient is coming to the infusion center, getting their, for example, rituximab, and they may be coming in and also receiving prescription for an oral therapy, like ibrutinib, in this case for CLL. That combination is 2 different types of administration. By working and looking at what's happening with these patients, we have to do a lot of education, address both components for how they're taking the medication, and also look at side effect profiles for the patients while on therapy."

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