Adding in-house specialty pharmacies to cancer centers improves quality of care and reduces medication errors for patients taking oral anticancer therapies, according to a study that will be presented at the upcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Quality Care Symposium.1

A multidisciplinary task force comprised of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and patients expanded an existing health-system pharmacy to provide specialty services with the goal of expediting drug access, standardizing consent, and ensuring clinical support. The team created treatment protocols for every oral oncologic drug and created a medication assistance program for copay support.

All prescriptions were routed to a clinical oncology pharmacist and the specialty pharmacy, where an oncology nurse and a pharmacist verified all orders. Pharmacists then placed calls to patients 1, 5, and 21 days after filling the prescription to monitor the patient for toxicity. Clinicians documented all processes related to oral agents on a multidisciplinary flow sheet in the electronic health record that was accessible by the entire clinical team.

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After creation of the specialty pharmacy and the treatment protocols, researchers observed a substantial improvement in the quality of patient care. Eighty percent of patients received oral oncologic drugs within 72 hours of prescribing, compared with a wait of 2 to 3 weeks prior to launch of the program.

Pharmacists have prevented more than 400 medication errors while using the new specialty pharmacy.

Specialty pharmacists also monitor toxicity for patients whose prescriptions are filled by other pharmacies. The medication assistance program aids an average of 140 patients each month with prescription costs.


  1. In-house specialty pharmacy at cancer center improves quality of care, reduces medical errors [news release]. Alexandria, VA: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO); February 27, 2017. Accessed March 1, 2017.