Patient walking during ambulatory immunotherapy

Hospital pharmacist Dr. Roelof van Leeuwen, who works in the Department of Pharmacy and Internal Oncology at the Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, has a mission. He wants health care to be accessible and work manageable for health workers. Projects on which she collaborates with other specialists, nurses and pharmacy assistants will help. Patients themselves play a vital role. We highlight three initiatives.

Connect & Go immunotherapy

Many cancer patients regularly come to daycare for an infusion of immunotherapy, also known as immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). Sometimes they sit for hours waiting for the drop to dry. That will change.

A patient who is able to do so receives therapy in an elastomeric pump. The pump is connected to the day care unit and the patient carries it around the unit in a small bag. He can go for coffee with a loved one or take a trip. When the pump is empty, the patient returns to the ward for disconnection.

Stop wasting unused tablets

It has been a major nuisance for patients, doctors and pharmacists for years. The doctor prescribes expensive tablets for a certain period of time, but the course is stopped in the middle. Unused cancer drugs go in the trash.

“Due to the legislation, you are not allowed to take unused medication back,” says the hospital pharmacist. “After all, you can’t guarantee that drugs have been stored in the right way and at the right temperature.” But what does the research show? The vast majority of patients (98.9 percent) keep these pills neatly as prescribed.

Fewer drugs, just as effective and safe

Van Leeuwen and fellow oncologists were already working on dosing chemotherapy and immunotherapy as precisely as possible. Van Leeuwen knows that when a cancer treatment comes to market, the drug company often recommends a high dose to ensure that the treatment is effective for the largest possible group.

“For many patients, this can easily be reduced by a few milligrams.” So Van Leeuwen and his colleagues began fine-tuning the dosage. “The focus is on innovative but also expensive therapies. We have already studied that pembrolizumab immunotherapy is just as effective if you reduce the dose by about 20 percent,” he says.

From: National Care Guide

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