A Review and Reflection on the Peer Review Process in Pharmacy Practice in Focus: Oncology

Pharmacy Practice in Focus: OncologyFebruary 2024
Volume 6
Issue 2

This issue of Pharmacy Practice in Focus: Oncology features the publication's first manuscript to undergo peer review.

We are pleased to include in this issue of Pharmacy Practice in Focus: Oncology our first manuscript to undergo peer review, “A Review of Anti-HER2 Targeted Agents in Non-Breast Solid Tumors.” Applications for HER2-directed therapies for solid tumors beyond breast cancer have expanded over the past several years, reflecting the importance of HER2 receptor signaling in the pathogenesis of several diseases as well as the impact of HER2-mediated signaling blockade on disease response rates and progression. The authors discuss the role of HER2 testing, available guidelines for testing, and indications for testing in a comparison of breast and non-breast malignancies. Although the most recent categorization of HER2-low tumors has been incorporated into treatment guidelines for breast cancer, findings from ongoing trials may provide guidance for treatment of patients with non-breast cancers that express low levels of HER2. The authors also discuss the role of HER2 mutations and testing strategies to identify individuals with non–small cell lung cancer who may benefit from HER2-directed therapies. As multiple agents advance through early-stage clinical trials, particularly HER2 antibodydrug conjugates, bispecific antibodies, and trispecific antibodies mentioned in this paper, oncology pharmacists will need to stay apprised of how these and currently available agents can best be appropriately integrated into optimal patient care.

3D illustration of the cancer cells -- Image credit: SciePro | stock.adobe.com

Image credit: SciePro | stock.adobe.com

One of the many benefits of published reviews is that authors can provide a view of advances in therapeutics that oncology pharmacists may be exposed to in their own practice settings but may not be familiar with in the broader discourse of the literature outside of their practice. Peer review also places this contribution to the literature under the scrutiny of other practicing professionals in the field, thus supporting the integrity of the scientific knowledge presented. Peer reviewers may include those individuals with specialized knowledge of the topic content of the manuscript or those with more generalized knowledge—both types of reviewers bring their own strengths and contributions to the process. Also, by participating as a peer reviewer, volunteers can benefit by staying up to date with advances and new insights in the field, which may stimulate new or innovative ideas for their own practice or research.

The peer review of an author’s work is also particularly valuable for the authors in helping them identify details or data that were overlooked, which could potentially present bias in results or conclusions. Feedback from peer reviewers has positively affected my career by helping me identify weaknesses and limitations of my research and writing, thereby aiding my development as an investigator and writer. The knowledge and insight that I have gained through reviewing others’ work over my career has been invaluable. The peer review process, however, is not without criticism, as it is fallible. For example, most recently, dozens of papers authored by senior researchers at a major cancer institute needed to be retracted or corrected due to allegations of errors or manipulation. Nevertheless, we believe that peer review will facilitate greater dissemination of credible and high-quality information that will enhance our ability as oncology pharmacists to facilitate and support optimal treatment outcomes for our patients. Peer-reviewed content will make up a portion of each future issue, and we look forward to receiving a robust pool of high-quality submissions.

Lisa E. Davis, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS, BCOP, is the editor in chief of Pharmacy Practice in Focus: Oncology. Davis holds positions as a clinical pharmacist in early-phase clinical trial and breast cancer programs at the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson and as a clinical professor of pharmacy practice and science at the University of Arizona R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy. Davis also sits on the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association Board of Directors and is a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program and scientific review committee at the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

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