Health Updates

Pharmacist Assistance Could Help Identify Predictable Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors to Improve Cancer Therapy

Necessary assistance from pharmacists could help in identifying predictable toxicities of immune checkpoint inhibitors or ICIs that are related to gastrointestinal, endocrine, and dermatological toxicities, and fatigue according to a recent study.

Photo: Pharmacist Assistance | InStyleHealth

The researchers said that introduction of ICIs is changing the cancer therapy, with new drugs and new toxicities – an evolving area encountered by pharmacists.

Research sought to compare the pattern of nivolumab-induced adverse events observed in practice with that in clinical trial and literature data, as well as identify the presentation and treatment modalities initiated in practice.

Furthermore, the researchers performed a retrospective case not review across two South Australian hospitals to identify the common toxicities and symptomatic treatments experienced by patients initiating nivolumab. Then, experts compared the results with clinical trial data from product innovator Bristol-Myer Squib and other published literature.

There were 70 patients enrolled in the study, of which 60 or 86% had any grade adverse events or AEs. There were 59 out of 70 (84%) had severe grade 3 to grade 4 AEs. These outcomes were consistent with those found in clinical trial and published literature data.

The prevalence of adverse events, collectively, with details on presentation and treatments indicated potential pharmacy practice strategies and areas for intervention. Researchers said that ICIs are an emerging treatment in cancer therapy for prolonging life, minimizing symptoms, and selectively targeting cancer. The program death 1 inhibitors, such as nivolumab, fall within this class, enabling patient’s immune system to detect and destroy cancer.

Source: J Pharm Pract 2021;34:386-396

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