Pharmacy’s Emerging Influence and the Roles Pharmacists Play

Conference Correspondent - AVBCC 2019 Summit


Moderator Niesha Griffith, RPh, MS, FASHP, Advising Partner at McGivney Global Advisors, opened this workshop by announcing that she had compiled a list of several “hot topics in pharmacy” that she wanted to cover during the allotted time. All of those topics, she explained, are part of the dynamic that is changing how pharmacists work now.

By way of introduction to a panel discussion aimed at both elucidating the evolving role of pharmacists in the healthcare delivery equation, and exploring the pharmacist’s expanding part in the emerging biologics space, Ms Griffith identified 2 big trends in pharmacy: (1) a mass exodus of clinical specialists into the pharmacy industry, and (2) pharmacists going into higher-level positions (ie, vice president and other senior-level positions).

These are occurring while the complexity of pharmacy and regulation has grown. So, while pharmacists are in many ways taking the lead with the increasingly complex protocols being introduced, both of these trends are simultaneously pulling clinicians out of face-to-face practice with patients at a time when working closely with patients is more crucial than ever before. It remains a question as to how these changes will filter down to patients.

Before delving into the list of hot topics, Ms Griffith asked the panelists for their overall impressions of the pharmacy field today. There was a consensus that the field had rapidly become more complex, but that it was very rewarding.

Ms Griffith asked about oral oncolytics and how they have changed pharmacy practice. Ray Bailey, BPharm, RPh, Pharmacy Director, Florida Cancer Specialists, commented that oral oncology therapy is an important new niche that has taken time to learn how to manage it and that it requires a great deal of clinical skill. Michael Reff, RPh, MBA, President, National Community Oncology Dispensing Association, agreed, noting, the “onslaught of oral oncology therapies caused a realization” that the status quo could not continue and that pharmacists needed “to take a proactive role.” They agreed that pharmacists need to have training and prove proficiency before they can counsel a patient.

This led to a discussion about the pharmacist’s level of involvement and influence in patient care, and whether they were driving decisions about medication. Steven D’Amato, RPh, BSPharm, BCOP, Executive Director, New England Cancer Specialists, described pharmacists as “stewards of a very valuable resource” and said that what he does now is more akin to “running a business” versus what used to be “inventory management.” Under his direction are other pharmacists to direct his company’s pharmacy operations and clinical operations, and he notes, to do their jobs, they “need to learn the business of oncology.”