Background A lack of information at the time of dispensing has been identified as a barrier to the safe provision of Oral Anticancer Medicines (OAMs) by pharmacists. Access to cancer treatment protocols at the time of pharmacist dispensing is advocated by numerous professional bodies to ensure the safe supply of OAMs.1,2
Purpose To compare the number of OAM prescriptions that could be verified and safely dispensed with and without access to the treatment protocol, and to assess the use of these protocols by pharmacists.
Material and methods One hundred OAM prescriptions were retrospectively reviewed to assess OAM verification with and without the treatment protocol. An electronic questionnaire was also distributed to 493 pharmacists. This questionnaire asked respondents to verify an OAM prescription with and without access to the treatment protocol and to comment on their experience and opinions.
Results When using standard reference sources, the pharmacists had sufficient information to verify 7% (n = 7) of OAM prescriptions reviewed. Having access to the treatment protocol increased the number of prescriptions that could be verified to 16% (n = 16) (p = <0.01). Lack of access to body surface area and failure to communicate deliberate deviations from standard doses prevented the verification of most OAM prescriptions (n = 84). The response rate to the questionnaire was 6.4% (n = 32). Pharmacists reported that the protocols were a valuable source of information and reported they would like access to them in the future.
Conclusion Facilitating access to the treatment protocol at the time of dispensing of OAM increases the number of prescriptions that can be verified and safely dispensed. However, implementing this measure alone is insufficient to address the safety concerns associated with the dispensing of OAM prescriptions by non-specialist pharmacists.
Irish Medication Safety Network. IMSN briefing document on oral anticancer medicines. 2011
British Oncology Pharmacists Association (BOPA). Standards for the verification of prescriptions for cancer medicines. 2013
ReferencesNo conflict of interest.
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