HOPA: 6th Annual Meeting Overview and Resources Summary

Since 2005, HOPA has held an annual conference. Its 6th Annual Meeting took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, from March 24 to March 27. The meeting featured sessions covering supportive care issues such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and iron replacement in cancer-related anemia; sessions on care controversies in hematologic malignancies and solid tumors; debates on the HPV vaccine and pharmacokinetic-guided dosing of chemotherapy for colorectal cancer; and overviews of treatment strategies for various cancers, including chronic myelogenous leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and melanoma.

The Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) was launched in 2004 to help oncology and hematology pharmacy practitioners and their associates optimize cancer care while reducing the burden of cancer on society by promoting optimal, cost-effective care for individuals affected by cancer and emphasizing preventive initiatives such as tobacco cessation. HOPA is a nonprofit organization which currently has over 1600 members, including oncology pharmacists, pharmacy interns, residents, nurses, technicians, researchers, and administrators specializing in hematology and oncology. Individuals interested in joining HOPA can get started at http://bit.ly/b9rXwM.

HOPA’s 6th Annual Meeting

Since 2005, HOPA has held an annual conference. Its 6th Annual Meeting took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, from March 24 to March 27. The meeting featured sessions covering supportive care issues such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and iron replacement in cancer-related anemia; sessions on care controversies in hematologic malignancies and solid tumors; debates on the HPV vaccine and pharmacokinetic-guided dosing of chemotherapy for colorectal cancer; and overviews of treatment strategies for various cancers, including chronic myelogenous leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and melanoma. The John G. Kuhn Keynote Lecture, which examined the impact of healthcare reform on oncology, was given by Joseph S. Bailes, MD, chair, The ASCO Foundation Board of Directors, on Wednesday, March 24, and was exceptionally timely and well attended, as President Obama had signed healthcare bill 3590 into law the day before. In the lecture, Dr Kuhn recommended methods HOPA members could employ to assist their institution’s hematology/oncology healthcare team in implementing healthcare reform changes to their existing institutional programs.

In speaking with Daisy Yang, PharmD, BCOP, chair, HOPA 2010 Program Committee, another important and timely session was on reimbursement and risk evaluation and mitigation strategies (REMS), which was lead by Niesha Griffith, MS, RPh, FASHP, director of pharmacy services and residency program director, The Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, Columbus, Ohio. Pharmacists continue to struggle with reimbursement issues and are now facing the additional burden of managing REMS programs. Since the FDA has no standardized protocol for REMS, these programs may have different requirements for different drug types. Dr Griffith discussed the elements and implications of REMS programs in oncology pharmacy practices.

Conferences & Education

All abstracts and posters from the HOPA 6th Annual Meeting will be made available on the HOPA Website soon. Materials from past meetings can be viewed on the HOPA Website by clicking on the tab at the top of the home page.

Additional HOPA Resources

HOPA issues a quarterly newsletter. The newsletter archive, which dates back to 2004, is accessible at www.hoparx.org/Newsletter.aspx. In addition to covering HOPA news, such as committee updates, the newsletters provide drug updates and contain articles that delve into important issues for practicing hematology/oncology pharmacists. The Winter 2010 newsletter, for instance, includes an article on preventing chemotherapy errors as well as an article on how pharmacists are being impacted by REMS and how they feel about these programs based on a recently conducted survey.

Resources

Under the tab on the HOPA Website, visitors can access E-alerts (www.hoparx.org/EAlerts.aspx), including FDA and legislative news. Hematology/oncology pharmacists looking for a career change may find the Job Postings section at www.hoparx.org/Jobs.aspx interesting. Jobs posted to this section are for various positions at cancer centers throughout the United States, such as MD Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Practice Resources

Another key resource provided by HOPA is HOPA University, which is linked to on HOPA’s home page or can be accessed at www.hopau.org. HOPA University is “HOPA’s site for educational courses, activities, and information supporting oncology and hematology pharmacists.” Currently, 10 CE activities are available, with “New Drug Update: Marketed Products” being the most recently added (www.hopau.org/Activities.aspx). In addition to accessing CE courses at HOPA University, members can also claim credit for sessions attended at the annual meeting and keep track of the HOPA educational activities that they have participated in. The HOPA University Website also features a tab (http://bit.ly/aGUINZ), where visitors can access PDFs of best practices documents from 2009 for investigational drugs, including an Investigational Chemotherapy Service Pharmacy Protocol Review Checklist from Duke and a copy of the Temperature Monitoring Policy for Pharmacy from the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.