The Immediate Future of Oncology Pharmacy Beyond COVID-19

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Pharmacy Times Oncology Edition, December 2020, Volume 2, Issue 6

Heading into the new year, we hope that pharmacists and pharmacy staff enjoy a happy and safe holiday season, and receive a well-deserved break after working especially hard in 2020.

We are nearing the end of what has been an unprecedented year for health care—and the world. As 2020 concludes and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to be on the forefront of health care, we are looking ahead to see what 2021 has in store for oncology pharmacy.

In this issue of Directions in Oncology Pharmacy®, author Katherine Lin, PharmD, BCOP, examines the current treatment landscape and the growing use of companion diagnostics in clinical decisions. On page 28, our cover feature examines the shift toward precision oncology, which uses cancer genomics to guide the course of therapy and affords patients treatment options that best suit their individual needs.

Although no one can be sure what the new year will bring, Editor-in-Chief Dan Steiber, RPh, offers a look at possible oncology pharmacy trends in 2021. On page 5, Steiber forecasts a heavier reliance on oncology pharmacists in the coming year with their expanded roles as part of health care teams. One example is oncology pharmacists leading the medication selection process as the number of oncologists decreases.

One element of oncology pharmacy that is sure to remain a vital part of patient care is education. On page 14, author Jill Drury, PharmD, BCOP discusses colorectal cancer prevention and how pharmacists can best educate their patients on a disease that is one of the most common cancer types in the United States. Prevention of colorectal cancer relies on regular screening and follow-up care for patients with elevated risk.

An overview of belantamab mafodotin-blmf (Blenrep; GlaxoSmithKline), the first in class anti-BCMA therapy to gain FDA approval, begins on page 11. Authors Lynnette Henshaw, PharmD, and Radhika Jhaveri, PharmD, BCOP, discuss this drug’s use for relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and its future.

Despite the promise of oncology pharmacy advancements, COVID-19 cannot be ignored. The Pharmacy Times® Peer Exchange series posted to our website (pharmacytimes.com), addresses how the pandemic could potentially create a shortage of plasma therapy. In the series, Ali McBride, PharmD, MS, BCOP, FASHP, FAzPA, and David Hughes, PharmD, BCOP, discuss challenges being faced by oncology pharmacists that include diagnosing and managing immune thrombocytopenia, a common adverse effect of cancer treatment, as well as current standards of care. A recap of the program appears on page 16.

Heading into the new year, we hope that pharmacists and pharmacy staff enjoy a happy and safe holiday season, and receive a well-deserved break after working especially hard in 2020.

Thank you for reading.