The first set of guidelines for providing oncology pharmacy services to cancer patients during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic was recently published in JCO Oncology Practice.

“These guidelines, specifically focused on the oncology pharmacy field, to the best of our knowledge, are the only ones available in Europe and even worldwide,” the guidelines authors wrote.

Developed by a working group of 7 experts in oncology pharmacy practice, all of whom were members of the French Society for Oncology Pharmacy (Société Francaise de Pharmacie Oncologique [SFPO]), the guidelines outline 26 recommendations covering the use of anticancer medications, from proper staff hygiene and safety to how to conduct clinical trials. 

The guidelines specifically recommend that staff in oncology departments wear surgical masks and apply social distancing rules “as much as possible” in addition to regular handwashing, coughing or sneezing into the elbow, greeting others without physical contact, and using disposable tissues.


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According to the guidelines, face-to-face collection of information with patients should be “suspended” and telephone interviews and electronic sources, such as medical records, should be used instead. Teleconsultations and use of technology to monitor treatment remotely is recommended.

Changes to therapeutic care were also included, specifically the use of flat-dose immunotherapy at the “widest possible administration intervals” and the use of oral therapies in lieu of injectable therapies.

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The guidelines also recommended delaying the start of early-phase trials and giving “priority” to trials related to treating patients with SARS-CoV-2.

Medication and medical device supply should be monitored, and an emergency alert procedure and alternative protocols should be in place in the event of a supply shortage. “Special attention will be paid to the supply of gloves and, if necessary, masks,” the authors wrote.

The guidelines are amenable to adjustments, noted the authors. “[T]hese guidelines will receive feedback from numerous practicing pharmacists around the world to add putative improvements.”

Reference

Pourroy B, Tournamille JF, Bardin C, et al. Providing oncology pharmacy services during the coronavirus pandemic: French Society for Oncology Pharmacy (Société Francaise de Pharmacie Oncologique [SFPO]) Guidelines [published online June 15, 2020]. JCO Oncol Pract. doi: 10.1200/OP.20.00295