The pharmacist, a key role in the adherence to the treatment of cancer patients

These health professionals are part of the multidisciplinary team that cares for patients with oncological conditions.

Luisa Ochoa

December 15, 2022 | | Reading time: 4 min

lcda. Mayra Toledo Díaz, pharmacist. Photo: provided to the Journal of Medicine and Public Health.

How important is the role of pharmacist in cancer treatment? These professionals can execute a specific therapy approach for each patient and are almost as relevant as the very medications they provide.

To delve into the subject, Lcda. Mayra Toledo Díaz, a Puerto Rican pharmacist, explained in an exclusive interview for the Medicina y Salud Pública Magazine the steps they take to care for patients, as well as the challenges they face to achieve adherence to cancer treatment.

“The pharmacist supports the patient by explaining what the prescribed medication is used for; the correct way to take it; at what time of day; It also explains the interactions that medication may have with one you are taking; If there is any side effect, it will guide you in detail about the effects that the patient is going to experience and how to manage them”, mentioned the graduate.

They provide guidance on the limitations of medicines in medical plans

In Puerto Rico, patients experience a particular situation related to the limitations of medical plans that result in high drug deductibles for patients and that not everyone can afford.

For the Lcda. Toledo Díaz, these situations can become very frequent, so in that case the pharmacists choose to help the patient and guide him so that he can access the medicine he needs.

“The pharmacist He is the one who makes the first effort to determine what is covered and what is not covered by the medical plan and what is the deductible that the patient must pay. Once that is determined, the pharmacist It helps you find the patient if there is a foundation or association that could assist you or reduce the cost of the medication,” Díaz explained.

Current challenges: achieving adherence to drug treatment

Another factor to take into account in the treatment of a patient, whether with cancer or another chronic condition, is adherence to therapy and on which pharmacists make continuous emphasis in their patients.

In this regard, the pharmacist pointed out that, “one of the things that we emphasize the most in the pharmacy to the patient is adherence to the medication, which is nothing more than taking that medication as prescribed. It is extremely important because the effectiveness of the treatment may depend on it.”

And the effectiveness of a certain treatment in a cancer patient is crucial for their remission, as well as physical and emotional health.

In this sense, one of the frequent situations that pharmacists show in their daily practice are patients who forget to take their medications, which is why they are attentive and follow up in order not to alter the therapy that was indicated for them to combat a certain disease. or alleviate symptoms.

“In these cases, pharmacists guide patients to try to take their medications exactly at the time of day that corresponds to them, but if they forget a dose, they should take it as soon as they remember. However, if too much time has passed and the time for the next dose is approaching, then they should not double the dose,” he emphasized.

“We also let the patient know that taking the medication too far can cause excess medication,” Díaz added.

Undoubtedly, pharmacists play an important role in monitoring patients, since they are in direct contact with them and provide guidance before, during and after treatments.

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