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The Top 7 Trends in Oncology Pharmacy Today

With over 1.7 million new cancer cases in the United States each year, oncology pharmacists and providers face unique challenges and discoveries in their ever-changing field. Managing cancer care during COVID-19 adds yet another layer of complexity.

It's hard to know for certain what the landscape of oncology will look like years from now, but we can take a look at the top 7 trends in oncology pharmacy and care to see where we're headed.

Simplivia Oncology Pharmacy CSTD

1. Increased Efficiency

Oncology pharmacists play a huge role in making oncology care run smoothly. In a recent survey from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the number of pharmacist positions has been steadily growing, and many pharmacists have a high level of authority and leadership woven into their vital roles. Pharmacists are often able to modify orders per protocols or even initiate therapies. All of this contributes to a more streamlined workflow 2.

2. Digitization in Healthcare

Digitization is another pathway to efficiency. Electronic health records (EHR) are now used by 95% of practices, along with electronic communication with patients, and most pharmacists are already using devices like smartphones and tablets in the chain of patient care.2 Technology not only helps to streamline care — it saves patients from unneeded appointments.

Telemedicine is also very useful.3 And although its use was low in previous years, it's possible that cancer care during COVID will result in greater use of telemedicine appointments even after the pandemic. Undoubtedly, technology will shape the heart of healthcare for the future to come.

3. Increased Innovation

The use of novel cancer therapies in oncology is increasing. Chemotherapy drugs have been the traditional route for cancer care, and immunotherapies like some kinds of monoclonal antibodies are also common treatments. But novel therapies such as checkpoint inhibitors or cell therapies are newer modalities which oncologists expect to see used more widely.

No matter what treatment oncologists choose, safe handling of hazardous drugs is imperative. Oncology nurses and pharmacists need to know they are protected from cytotoxic or other hazardous drugs. Simplivia's closed system transfer devices (CSTDs) ensure that antineoplastic drugs don't get in or out of the device during preparation or administration. Using our CSTDs, healthcare professionals don't have to worry about accidental exposure to hazardous drugs.

Simplivia Oncology Pharmacy CSTD

4. More Clinical Trials

Clinical trials were more prevalent as of 2019, with 250,000 in 2018 compared to 50,000 in 2008. Not only do more trials mean better chances of clinical breakthroughs, but participating patients have access to new treatments. Although cancer care during COVID-19 has likely had some negative impact on clinical trials, their future is promising.

5. More Personalized Medicine

Not only are novel therapies on the rise, but there's a shift towards precision and personalized medicine in oncology. Some therapies might be more effective than others, depending on the individual cancer. Biomarker testing provides molecular information that helps oncologists decide the best treatment to use.

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is a strategy that allows clinicians to look at many genes of a cancer at once, to help them target that specific tumor. Most oncologists report that performing it has an impact on patient outcomes. If insurance coverage of these tests improves, patients may be able to receive even more effective, personalized care.3

6. Use of Biosimilars

Biologics are drugs made from living sources. They have increasingly been used in cancer care, but they can be very costly. Biosimilars are an alternative to these expensive drugs. They're essentially identical to the biologic reference products they're based on, but manufactured by a different company.

Biosimilars provide a way for greater numbers of patients to access novel therapies more affordably.4 Although there are strict requirements for these drugs to get approved, the use of biosimilars is expected to be a rising trend in oncology pharmacy.1

7. Oncologists Rely on Data for Decision-Making

Although oncologists face some insurance barriers to prescribing their first-choice treatments, they say safety and efficacy are most important to them when it comes to cancer care decisions. They strive to use evidence to guide their decision-making process.3

At Simplivia, we know how important evidence-based practice is for the realm of healthcare. Simplivia's CSTDs have been scientifically proven to increase safety and efficiency when it comes to hazardous drugs. No matter which antineoplastic drug is in use, our CSTDs protect both providers and patients.

The Future of Oncology Care

Safety is of the utmost importance for providers, patients, and oncology pharmacists. As we shift into the future, it's clear that pharmacists will play a pivotal role in the ever-changing landscape of oncology care. It will be important for oncology pharmacists to continue to be leaders in safety and innovation within their organizations.

With streamlined workflows, teamwork, and use of high-quality medical devices like Simplivia's CSTDs, we can continue working together towards lowering cancer mortality rates. Cancer is a devastating illness for so many patients and their families. Finding a cure may be a long road to travel, but it's never been more important to strive for it.

Whatever the future holds, Simplivia will continue making quality products that support oncology patients, pharmacists, and providers every step of the way.

1. APPA. The Ten Trends to Watch Out for in 2020.
4. Oncology Letters. Current and Future Roles of Biosimilars in Oncology Practice. Konstantinidou, S., Papaspiliou, A., Kokkotou, E. 2020 Jan; 19(1): 45–51. Published online 2019 Nov 15. doi: 10.3892/ol.2019.11105.


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