The Increasing Growth of Oral Oncolytic Agents Highlights Critical Role Oncology Pharmacists Play in Patient Care

Pharmacy Times Oncology Edition, October 2021, Volume 3, Issue 5

With a surge in development of oral oncolytic agents for a variety of therapy targets, the support pharmacists can provide patients in areas such as oral oncolytic medication adherence has come to the fore.

With a surge in development of oral oncolytic agents for a variety of therapy targets, the support pharmacists can provide patients in areas such as oral oncolytic medication adherence has come to the fore. Considering that much of health care has shifted to being delivered and administered in patients’ homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting a variety of new setting-related topics is critical.

Patients with cancer have even greater need for a safe environment for delivery and administration of their health care than much of the rest of the population, bringing the role of oral oncolytic agents and oncology pharmacists to new heights within the field. Outside of their prominent role in the safe delivery of oncology care during the pandemic, oral oncolytic agents offer other advantages over parenteral treatment. They provide the opportunity for less invasive administration, prolonged drug exposure, and greater patient convenience.1

As early as May 2020, a survey of community practices in the United States showed that more than half of the oncologists/hematologists surveyed had shifted at least 10% of their patients from infusions to oral oncolytic agents.2 In October 2021, one can imagine this number has grown significantly. Consequently, this issue of Directions in Oncology Pharmacy® looks at the role of oral oncolytic drugs in the field today and provides information on what is to come in the d rug pipeline.

In our cover story, on page 52, authors Mark Alwardt and Shereen Stutz, RPh, address the role of medically integrated dispensing (MID) pharmacies within a new paradigm of oncology care, focusing on the role of MIDs in the landscape of oral oncolytic agents. On page 25, author Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, provides an overview of the oral oncolytic pipeline for multiple myeloma, highlighting relevant data from the studies conducted to date for each oral oncolytic agent on the horizon.

Additionally, on page 36, we examine the role of home infusion within the oncology field today. With data demonstrating that home infusion remains a critical option for patients with cancer during the pandemic, the Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act was introduced to the US Congress in August 2021. The bill focuses on ensuring the availability of home infusions for certain Medicare patients to support their ongoing care during the pandemic and beyond.

In this way, the impact of the pandemic on health care has been far reaching. Yet, the wake of this impact has left oncology pharmacists holding a pivotal role in this new paradigm. They are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of patients and ensure their safety, now and in the future.