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Advanced Pharmacy Services Provide Support to Multiple Myeloma Clinic

  • January 13, 2016
  • RPh on the Go

advanced pharmacy services cancer treatmentIn March 2014, the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System Cancer Center in Chicago implemented a new care model. Under this model, clinical pharmacists work closely with patients suffering from multiple myeloma, as part of their care management team.

Multiple myeloma Is a hematologic cancer that affects blood cell production. As such, it weakens the immune system and bone structure. It results in hypercalcemia which damages the kidneys and other organs. The National Cancer Institute says this type of cancer is the third most common hematologic malignancy in the United States.

This particular clinic runs for four hours every Monday under the supervision of a doctor who works with two pharmacists to manage the patients. With the complexity of the treatment regimens involving both IV and oral chemotherapy, keeping the right patients on the right medication regimens is not only critical, but potentially difficult to manage. With a number of administrative issues to further complicate matters since some of the treatments are only available through specialty pharmacies and require prior authorization from insurance companies, the doctor felt having a pharmacy support staff could increase the efficiency of the clinic and improve patient care.

The pharmacists work with all the patients who attend the clinic handling all the drug management to treat not only the cancer but any kind of supportive medications the patients may also need. The pharmacists work directly with patient doctors to prescribe the necessary chemotherapy.

The pharmacists who participate in the program believe the part they play keeps them engaged in patient care and improves overall quality of patient care. It is easier to optimize dosages of medication and manage any adverse events. Pharmacists are often more familiar with potential drug interactions and thus the risk for toxicities and the appropriate dosage based on the patient’s organ function. While doctors are familiar with medications and what they are used to treat, pharmacists work more directly with them and are often times more up-to-date.

The success of this care model keeps patients receiving the best possible care, while also allowing the doctor and pharmacists to focus on what they do best. While the model isn’t widespread yet, it shows promise for other clinics around the country who struggle to manage everything and want to improve efficiency without sacrificing quality of care.

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