The Situation
A patient in her late 20s was being treated with Opdivo, a specialty cancer medication that is FDA indicated for the treatment of relapsed or progressed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Looking at the patient’s profile and reviewing chart notes provided by her physician, our Clinical Pharmacist identified that her cancer was in remission; continuing the medication could subject her to adverse side effects, while providing no clinical value.

The Intervention
Our Pharmacist shared the clinical guidelines with the patient’s physician; together, they determined this medication was not medically necessary while the patient was in remission, and the patient was notified.

Results Matter:
The patient’s condition has remained in remission and, importantly, she avoided the risk of long-term side effects:

  • Original Prescription: Opdivo IV infusion
  • Clinical Recommendation: Discontinue therapy

The Takeaway:
Different cancer medications have different indications and diagnosis-specific prescribing guidelines, which can cause confusion or lead to incorrect prescribing; pharmacists can provide a critical safety net by catching oversights others may miss. This is why pharmacist-physician engagement is so important; pharmacists know medication science, drug development, and clinical guidelines better than any other medical professional, which makes them a crucial component of a patient’s care team.