The Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) is a nonprofit professional organization of almost 2,000 members launched in 2004. HOPA’s purpose is to optimize the care of individuals affected by cancer through the support and advancement of oncology pharmacy practice. HOPA is the leading oncology pharmacy association focusing on efforts to maintain quality and safety in cancer care in an interdisciplinary, collaborative practice setting including, but not limited to, hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, community pharmacy and home health.
The roles of our membership span from direct patient care, to education, to research. HOPA leads efforts to ensure that the needs and perspectives of cancer patients and their families are maintained regardless of practice setting and that all cancer patients have access to quality and safe cancer care. In order to reach these goals, we have outlined the following priority areas for continued investment in cancer patients, cancer care, and research.
Health Policy Priorities for HOPA
Promote and improve patient safety by realizing the value and role that hematology/oncology pharmacists play as providers in healthcare delivery: There is currently a lack of understanding in the cancer care delivery model for the important role that hematology/oncology pharmacists play in the care and treatment of cancer patients.
Cancer treatment can be an extremely complex, confusing, and frightening occasion for patients and their family members. The medications used to treat cancer are toxic and can have significant adverse effects. Patients often have numerous questions about their course of treatment and management of their adverse effects. These questions are best answered by a hematology/oncology pharmacist, who is an essential partner on their patient care team and whose expertise is needed on the frontlines to educate, inform, and encourage cancer patients and their families.
Improve access to oral chemotherapy for all patients and develop guidelines to promote safety in the ordering, dispensing and administration of oral chemotherapy: The advent of oral chemotherapy represents great progress in the treatment of cancer. However, as with many new innovations, oral chemotherapy can be more expensive and is often not covered by a patients’ insurance at the same rate as intravenous chemotherapy.
Despite having insurance, patients are subjected to exorbitant co-pays and may decide to forego what their physician considers to be the most effective treatment for their specific type of cancer. Hematology/oncology pharmacists are an essential partner in improving access to these medications, by advocating for payment equality with oral and intravenous chemotherapies and discouraging restricted distribution systems that create hurdles for patients and providers. Oral chemotherapy also carries significant risks when not used appropriately, therefore hematology/oncology pharmacists are in a unique position to create guidelines and provide education to ensure these medications are used safely and effectively.
Additional Health Policy Concerns
- Maintain and expand U.S. investments in research for cancer treatment to ensure that new innovations are possible
- Sustain and protect practical reimbursement policies for cancer drugs and cancer treatment providers to ensure access to quality care for cancer patients
- Protect the 340b drug discount program to help hospital treat vulnerable cancer patients
- Ensure patients have access to essential pain medications
- Prohibit the practice of “brown-bagging” which can effect the integrity of the drug as it moves through the supply chain
- Ensure that biosimilar drugs do not impact patient safety
- Address the growing oncology drug shortages that are prohibiting patients from accessing or receiving the agents necessary for the treatment of their cancer and cancer related symptoms