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J Oncol Pharm Pract. 2010 Mar;16(1):9-18. doi: 10.1177/1078155209354346. Epub 2009 Dec 16.

Current challenges in European oncology pharmacy practice.

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Pharmacy Department, University Hospital of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.



The demand for pharmacy cancer services is expected to at least double over the next 10 years, as the population ages and new treatments are introduced. Safe and efficient handling of cytotoxic products minimises risks to staff and reduces medication errors.


To identify and describe strategies for coping safely and effectively with heavier workloads in the hospital oncology pharmacy, currently and in the future.


The PubMed database was searched for literature on approaches to safe handling of antineoplastic agents and to decreasing medication errors in the hospital pharmacy. Articles that were judged to be of prime importance to the hospital oncologist were reviewed. These safety concepts are put into the context of contemporary hospital oncology pharmacy practice through discussion of key issues, including increased demand, the role of the pharmacist in determining the hospital formulary, and growth in patient preferences for oral chemotherapy. Recommendations on best practices are also provided, based on relevant literature and author experience.


Efficient, safe hospital pharmacy operations can be aided by capacity planning, dose banding, and knowledge of novel products and procedures that can reduce risks to health while increasing the number of patients who are safely treated. Consideration may also be given to the economic role of oncology pharmacists in formulary development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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