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Rowena N. Schwartz, Kirby J. Eng, Deborah A. Frieze, Tracy K. Gosselin, Niesha Griffith, Amy Hatfield Seung, Jennifer M. Hinkel, Philip E. Johnson, Shirley A. Johnson, Edward C. Li, Audrea Hotsko Szabatura and Michael K. Wong

The use of specialty pharmacies is expanding in oncology pharmacy practice. Specialty pharmacies provide a channel for distributing drugs that, from the payor perspective, creates economies of scale and streamlines the delivery of expensive drugs. Proposed goals of specialty pharmacy include optimization of pharmaceutical care outcomes through ensuring appropriate medication use and maximizing adherence, and optimization of economic outcomes through avoiding unwarranted drug expenditure. In oncology practice, specialty pharmacies have become a distribution channel for various agents. The use of a specialty pharmacy, and the addition of the pharmacist from the specialty pharmacy to the health care team, may not only provide benefits for care but also present challenges in oncology practice. The NCCN Specialty Pharmacy Task Force met to identify and examine the impact of specialty pharmacy practice on the care of people with cancer, and to provide recommendations regarding issues discussed. This report provides recommendations within the following categories: education and training of specialty pharmacy practitioners who care for individuals with cancer, coordination of care, and patient safety. Areas for further evaluation are also identified.

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Philip E. Johnson, George Dahlman, Kirby Eng, Rekha Garg, Scott Gottlieb, James M. Hoffman, Peyton Howell, Mohammad Jahanzeb, Shirley Johnson, Emily Mackler, Mark Rubino, Brenda Sarokhan, F. Marc Stewart, Tim Tyler, Julie M. Vose, Sharon Weinstein, Edward C. Li and Jessica DeMartino

REMS are a particularly important issue for oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). A disproportionate number of drugs with complex REMS are used in patients with cancer or hematologic disorders. REMS policies and processes within oncology may act as a model for other clinical areas. A breadth of experience and access to a wide knowledge base exists within oncology that will ensure appropriate development and consideration of the practical implications of REMS. NCCN is uniquely positioned to assume a leadership role in this process given its status as the arbiter of high-quality cancer care based on its world-leading institutions and clinicians. Notwithstanding the potential benefits, the successful design, implementation, and analysis of the FDA's recent requirement for REMS for some high-risk drugs and biologics will present significant challenges for stakeholders, including patients, providers, cancer centers, manufacturers, payors, health information technology vendors, and regulatory agencies. To provide guidance to these stakeholders regarding REMS challenges, the NCCN assembled a work group comprised of thought leaders from NCCN Member Institutions and other outside experts. The Work Group identified challenges across the REMS spectrum, including the areas of standardization, development and assessment of REMS programs, medication guides, provider knowledge and impact on prescribing, provider burden and compensation, and incorporation of REMS into clinical practice.

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Saul N. Weingart, Elizabeth Brown, Peter B. Bach, Kirby Eng, Shirley A. Johnson, Timothy M. Kuzel, Terry S. Langbaum, R. Donald Leedy, Raymond J. Muller, Lee N. Newcomer, Susan O’Brien, Denise Reinke, Mark Rubino, Leonard Saltz and Ronald S. Walters

Oral chemotherapy is emerging as a new option for well-selected patients who can manage potentially complex oral regimens and self-monitor for potential complications. If a choice between oral and parenteral therapy is available, patients may opt for oral chemotherapy because it is more convenient to administer, allows them to avoid multiple office visits, and gives them a sense of control over their own cancer care. Whether these potential advantages are maintained in regimens that combine oral and parenteral drugs is less clear. The use of oral chemotherapeutic agents profoundly affects all aspects of oncology, including creating significant safety and adherence issues, shifting some traditional roles and responsibilities of oncologists, nurses, and pharmacists to patients and caregivers. The financing of chemotherapy is also affected. To address these issues, the NCCN convened a multidisciplinary task force consisting of oncologists, nurses, pharmacists, and payor representatives to discuss the impact of the increasing use of oral chemotherapy. (JNCCN 2008;6[Suppl 3]:S1–S14)