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Walgreens designates cancer care specialty pharmacies

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Pharmacy staff get advanced oncology clinical care training

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens has designated more than 50 of its community specialty pharmacies as cancer-specialized locations.

The drug chain said Wednesday that the Walgreens cancer-specialized pharmacies are led by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians with advanced cancer care training and knowledge, including medication management and patient support.

Staff have completed a cancer-focused curriculum of advanced education courses, including colorectal, lung, prostate and breast cancer plus blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, myeloproliferative neoplasms and myelodysplatic syndrome.

Walgreens community specialty pharmacy_signWalgreens noted that the cancer-specialized pharmacies help patients access, afford and stay on their medication as well as transition them into survivorship care. Pharmacists and technicians work with other health care providers to help manage any medication side effects and can aid in finding financial assistance, if needed.

“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,” Matthew Farber, senior director for oncology disease state management at Walgreens, said in a statement. “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 its oncology clinical pharmacy staff collaborate with patients’ health care teams to address 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.”

For blood cancer care, the Leukemia & 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 of their blood cancer courses, which focus on the latest evidence-based standards and guidelines for care.

Walgreens said the educational initiative is part of an ongoing collaboration with LLS. 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, according to the company.

“Our programs, priorities and policies are driven by what is right for patients,” stated Louis DeGennaro, president and chief executive officer of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “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 the breast cancer curriculum developed by the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), tailored for Walgreens pharmacists; prostate and colorectal cancer curriculum developed by Pharmacy Times Continuing Education; and a lung cancer course devised by Advanced Studies in Medicine (ASiM) and its University of Tennessee Advance Studies in Pharmacy initiative.

Walgreens added that it plans to offer more education courses from some of theses organizations, as well as other cancer experts and educators, including the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy (NASP) and ProCE Inc., a continuing pharmacy and medical education firm.


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