By Edward C. Li, PharmD, BCOP, Drugs and Biologics Editor
From March 23 through March 26, 2011, approximately 700 people assembled in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) 7th Annual Conference. The conference was designed to educate hematology/oncology pharmacists regarding up-to-date clinical evidence about treatment options for the active treatment of cancer and supportive care management. According to HOPA, the overall educational goal of the conference was to "improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery while maintaining or exceeding the quality of patient care." Educational programming dealt with controversies in care for solid tumors, hematologic malignancies, and supportive care issues. Additionally, several sessions identified specific practical issues facing hematology/oncology pharmacy practitioners, and offered solutions to these problems in the form of best practices.
Tito Fojo, MD, PhD, from the National Cancer Institute, delivered the Keynote Lecture on the topic of "The Cost of Cancer Therapy." During his presentation, Dr. Fojo challenged all stakeholders (e.g., academia, pharmaceutical companies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and oncology practitioners) to do better with addressing the cost of oncology drugs. In his opinion, a major reason why cancer therapies are expensive is that they are given "indiscriminately," thereby exposing patients to excess toxicity as well as increasing monetary cost. Dr. Fojo subsequently presented clinical studies supporting his view. He concluded his presentation with a statement that personalized medicine, through understanding which patient populations will experience efficacy and toxicity from a drug, is the key to addressing cost.
Other presentations at the conference discussed updates on new and emerging drugs. The clinical evidence and subsequent clinical pearls for the newly FDA-approved therapies sipuleucel-T, cabazitaxel, eribulin, denosumab, and dabigatran were presented. The emerging investigational drugs that were discussed had a common thread of being "targeted therapies." Many of the mentioned emerging therapies target novel receptors or clinical pathways, for example poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, EML4-ALK, and PI3-kinase.
Additionally, sessions offering recertification credits for board-certified oncology pharmacists were offered. These presentations reviewed broader concepts, such as metastatic breast cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, germ cell tumors, and metastatic prostate cancer. Furthermore, cardiac toxicities of targeted therapy and recommendations for vaccinating patients with cancer were described.
Overall, the conference provided relevant and up-to-date programming for those practicing in oncology pharmacy. The conference has grown over the past seven years, offering opportunities for attendees to network with pharmacy colleagues from the United States and around the world.
Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association: Education and Conference. Available at: http://www.hoparx.org/education/default/index.html. Accessed April 12, 2011.