Incorporating a Clinical Oncology Pharmacist Into an Ambulatory Care Pharmacy in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and Transplant Clinic: Assessment and Significance

Background: Beta thalassemia patients, post-bone marrow transplant, and leukemia patients require long term therapy with an intense care follow-up especially for pediatric hematology-oncology origin. Emergence of side effects and noncompliance to therapy lead to reduced efficacy of medicines resulting in relapse of diseases. There is an increasing fact to support the incorporation of a pharmacist into clinical team due to their distinctive skills. Clinical oncology pharmacist with experience and specialized training in hematological cancers and bone marrow transplantation (BMT) patient care has in-depth knowledge and skills of chemotherapy regimens including drug information, monitoring parameters of cancer treatment, dose adjustment, drug-drug interactions, adverse effects, and patient counseling skills.

Aim and objectives: The main objective of our study was to assess the significance of incorporation of clinical oncology pharmacist in ambulatory care in pediatric hematology-oncology and transplant clinic.

Material and method: This study was conducted at National Institute of Blood Diseases and Bone Marrow Transplantation hospital with duration of five months from 17 March 2019 to 16 July 2019. In this study the clinical oncology pharmacist was made available at ambulatory clinic of hematology-oncology and transplantation. The activities performed by a clinical oncology pharmacist were observed by resident BMT clinical pharmacist during the visits of patients and their families in a clinic. The BMT pharmacist is a clinical oncology pharmacist with experience and specialized training in hematological cancers and BMT patient care. Only pediatrics patients with beta thalassemia major and those who were on chemotherapy treatment and post-transplant patient were included in this study.

Results: During the five months’ tenure, there were 1820 pediatric patients’ visits in total. The clinical oncology pharmacist performed 980 direct patient interviews and documented 1665 pharmacist interventions. The majority of the documented clinical oncology pharmacist interventions were review of medication histories (n: 404, 24%) and “deferiprone” dose adjustments (n:400, 24%). Genomic profiling interventions were also among the commonly reported activities by the clinical oncology pharmacist. For beta thalassemia patients undergoing hydroxyurea therapy, the genomic profiling was performed to assess whether the hydroxyurea treatment is clinically effective or not (n:396, 23%).

Conclusion: The involvement of clinical oncology pharmacist into a specialized outpatient clinic of hematology-oncology and transplant clinic plays an integral role in minimizing the adverse effect and reduction in readmission into the hospital. This is new expansion of pharmacist’s role especially in underdeveloped country, considering the relevant clinical participation of clinical oncology pharmacist into specialized clinic revealing through optimized therapy and future prospect of clinical oncology pharmacist in pediatric hematology.

Keywords: Clinical oncology pharmacist; ambulatory care; hematology–oncology; transplant.