DEERFIELD, Ill. — More than 50 Walgreens community specialty pharmacies have been designated as cancer-specialized locations, according to the company, which noted that those facilities are led by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians with advanced cancer care training and knowledge, including medication management and patient support.
Walgreens said that the cancer-specialized pharmacies help patients access to, afford and stay on their medication while helping transition them into survivorship care. In addition, pharmacists and technicians work with other health care providers to help manage any medication side effects and can also help patients find financial assistance if they need it, according to the company.
“We are continually looking for ways to better support and educate our cancer patients on their medication regimens while helping to improve their quality of care,” said Matthew Farber, senior director for oncology disease state management at Walgreens. “With the continued advances in new oral therapies for cancer care, our pharmacists at these specialty locations are playing an integral role in working with patients’ physicians, nurses, social workers and financial counselors.”
Walgreens’ oncology clinical programs are designed to engage patients and help them surmount any medication adherence obstacles during their treatment, the company said, adding that its oncology clinical pharmacy staff collaborate with patients’ health care teams to address any clinical and communication gaps that may emerge.
“It is increasingly the case that a pharmacist — either over the phone, in person, or via a mobile or web chat — will have the last conversation with a patient prior to the initiation of their oral therapies,” Farber explained. “This offers a tremendous opportunity for our cancer-specialized pharmacies to help ensure the success of a patient’s treatment regimen.”
In its announcement of the new cancer-specialized pharmacy designations, Walgreens noted that the pharmacy staff members at those locations have completed a cancer-focused curriculum of advanced education courses, including courses devoted to colorectal, lung, prostate and breast cancer plus such blood cancers as leukemia, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, myeloproliferative neoplasms and myelodysplatic syndrome.
For example, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) developed clinical training courses, resources and certification for Walgreens specialty pharmacists and technicians. LLS will award blood cancer certifications to Walgreens cancer-specialized pharmacies when staff complete their blood cancer courses, which focus on the latest evidence-based standards and guidelines for care.
That educational initiative is part of an ongoing collaboration with LLS, according to Walgreens, which said that a key goal has been to implement an education and training program to enhance pharmacists’ knowledge of blood cancers and treatments as part of the overall cancer care continuum.
“Our programs, priorities and policies are driven by what is right for patients,” stated Louis DeGennaro, president and chief executive officer of the LLS. “In collaboration with Walgreens, we are making an impact on the health care of the more than 1.2 million people in the U.S. living with or in remission from a blood cancer.”
Pharmacy staff at the Walgreens cancer-specialized pharmacies also have completed a breast cancer curriculum developed by the Oncology Nursing Society and tailored for Walgreens pharmacists; a prostate and colorectal cancer curriculum developed by Pharmacy Times Continuing Education; and a lung cancer course that was devised by Advanced Studies in Medicine and its University of Tennessee Advance Studies in Pharmacy initiative.
Walgreens plans to offer more education courses from some of these organizations, as well as from other cancer experts and educators, including the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy and ProCE Inc., a continuing pharmacy and medical education firm.