By Edward C. Li, PharmD, BCOP, NCCN eBulletin Drugs & Biologics Editor and Jennifer Hinkel, NCCN e-Bulletin Editor-in-Chief
At the NCCN 4th Annual Congress: Hematologic Malignancies™ held on September 11 and 12, 2009 in New York City, NCCN launched the first NCCN Cancer Medication Information Sheets™ (NCCN CMI), a set of patient medication guides. NCCN is releasing this new information product in stages, and made the first three sheets for CML available at the Hematologic Malignancies Congress while two additional sheets will be distributed at the NCCN 2nd Annual Forum: Innovative Diagnostics & Therapeutics in Cancer Care™ on October 2, 2009. The sheets are distributed as tear-off pads so that clinicians can provide the information to patients in a take-home format.
“The NCCN Cancer Medication Information sheets are a good resource for patient information and a good tool for patient education. I would use them in discussions with patients,” said Dr. Crystal Denlinger, a medical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA.
NCCN CMI sheets are consistent with and derived from chemotherapeutic and biologic regimens defined by the NCCN Chemotherapy Order Templates®. As a result, this patient information source is consistent with recommendations developed by NCCN Guidelines Panels for the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology® and NCCN Drugs & Biologics Compendium®. This new information product is not only a tool for educating patients undergoing cancer treatment but also a mechanism for providing patients with information that is consistent with other NCCN recommendations and references.
The need for such an educational tool has been clearly expressed by both physicians and patients, as there is a broad problem of inadequate and or inconsistent patient-friendly medication information. The FDA echoed this sentiment in a December 2008 report, finding that “the printed cancer medication information voluntarily provided with new prescriptions by retail pharmacies does not consistently provide easy-to-read, understandable information about the use and risks of medication.” Additionally, the FDA found that most patient information leaflets were very general and did not provide much concrete information or specific instructions.
One purpose of the NCCN CMI sheets is to reconcile issues such as the aforementioned complexity and lack of specificity of information available to patients. General or inconsistent medication information is of little benefit to patients because such information may not enable patients to fully understand the nature of their medication and potential side effects. NCCN CMI sheets are written in patient-friendly language and tailored specifically to the regimen the patient is receiving. NCCN CMI sheets will also provide a focused list of relevant toxicities and self-care instructions specific to the patient's treatment. As a result, patients will have access to specific, concise, understandable, and relevant information rather than a large set of general instructions that could be potentially overwhelming or confusing.
Likewise, NCCN Cancer Medication Information Sheets™ exist as a tool for clinicians charged with the responsibility of educating and counseling patients on the risks, benefits, and self-management of chemotherapy/biologic regimens. Patients will be able to reference NCCN CMI sheets for information on medication administration, additional tests that may be required, potential drug interactions and self- care tips including instructions on when to call a physician, what side effects may be expected, and how to manage accompanying symptoms.
Please contact C. Lyn Fitzgerald, Vice President, U.S. & Global Development, for information on supporting this initiative.