International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 893–901 | Cite as

Identification of risks associated with the prescribing and dispensing of oral anticancer medicines in Ireland

  • Lisa HammondEmail author
  • Elaine Marsden
  • Niamh O’Hanlon
  • Fionnuala King
  • Martin Charles Henman
  • Claire Keane
Research Article


Background Oral anticancer medicines (OAM) facilitate transfer of cancer care into the community, where safeguards developed in hospitals that control their prescribing, dispensing and administration may not exist. Objective To determine if the systems of prescribing and dispensing OAM in Ireland facilitate clinical verification of the prescription, thereby ensuring treatment is tailored and appropriate for the patient. Setting Randomly selected community pharmacies in Ireland and all Irish hospitals with cancer services. Method A questionnaire was sent to a random selection of Irish community pharmacists. A different questionnaire was sent to all Irish hospitals treating cancer patients. One hundred OAM prescriptions were retrospectively reviewed, to assess the information presented and the potential barriers to a community pharmacist performing a clinical verification of the prescription. Main outcome measure Community pharmacist survey: problems experienced when dispensing OAM and risk factors identified with the current system. Hospital pharmacist survey: proportion of hospitals that clinically verify prescriptions for parenteral versus oral anticancer medicines and associated policies. OAM prescription review: proportion of OAM prescriptions that contained sufficient information for a community pharmacist to clinically verify the prescription and safely dispense the medication. Results Sixty-four percent of community pharmacist respondents felt they did not have enough information available to them to safely dispense these prescriptions, and 74 % felt that patients are at risk with the current Irish system of prescribing and dispensing OAM. Irish hospitals do not have systems to ensure that all OAM prescriptions are clinically verified by a pharmacist. Seventeen different agents were prescribed on the prescriptions reviewed. The information provided to the community pharmacist would have allowed them to clinically verify 7 % of the OAM prescriptions. Conclusion Prescriptions for OAM reach the community pharmacist with little chance that they have been clinically verified in the hospital and the medicine reaches the patient with little chance that the community pharmacist has been able to clinically verify it. Healthcare risks are increased when inadequate information about patients and their medicines are available. Appropriate specialist practitioners should be provided nationally to clinically oversee each stage of the OAM use process.


Care transfer Medication errors Oncology Patient care management Pharmaceutical services Quality of health care Oral anticancer medicines Oral chemotherapy Clinical verification Community pharmacy systems Drug prescriptions 



We would like to thank June O’Shea, Chief Pharmacist of St. Vincent’s University Hospital, for her support.


None received.

Conflicts of interest

None of the authors have any conflicts of interest concerning this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Hammond
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elaine Marsden
    • 1
  • Niamh O’Hanlon
    • 1
  • Fionnuala King
    • 2
  • Martin Charles Henman
    • 3
  • Claire Keane
    • 1
  1. 1.Pharmacy DepartmentSt. Vincent’s University HospitalDublin 4Ireland
  2. 2.Pharmacy DepartmentSt. James’s HospitalDublin 8Ireland
  3. 3.The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical SciencesTrinity College DublinDublin 2Ireland

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