News

June 18, 2018

National Pharmacy Oncology Experts Conduct Rigorous Product Evaluations Contributing to Safe Medication Management

Over two days, 24 experts from across the country came together to evaluate products submitted as part of HealthPRO’s 2019 Pharmacy Oncology RFP, based on criteria that focus on minimizing the risk of preventable medication errors as well helping ensure clinician safety when it comes to handling cytotoxic medications.

“Reducing the number of adverse medication events starts with reducing opportunities for those events to happen, says Debra Merrill, Director, Pharmacy Program, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. “From packaging to barcodes to ampoule size, conducting an objective, practical product evaluation is critical to ensuring that only safe and high-quality products are selected for HealthPRO contracts.”

The criteria used to evaluate products are based on the most current Health Canada Labelling and Packaging guidelines, Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada) safety recommendations, and the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists (CSHP) professional practice standards.

In 2018, HealthPRO, along with the Pharmacy Specialities Oncology Committee (PSOC), also worked to create a standard definition around the presence of a cytoprotective sheath as it relates to scoring for cytotoxic vials.

“Cytotoxic drugs, most often used in cancer treatment, can present significant risks to those who handle them” says Marc Geirnaert, Director, Provincial Oncology Drug Program, Cancer Care Manitoba. “HealthPRO’s work to ensure we had a clear definition related to cytoprotective packaging in advance of the product evaluation for the PS19 Oncology RFP is a great step toward helping enhance occupational safety for clinicians.”

The elements evaluated by 24 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, included:

  • the presence of a barcode to improve traceability
  • clarity of information on the unit-of-use
  • print size and style to ensure ease of legibility
  • the presence of a cytoprotective sheath
  • presence of preservatives
  • appropriateness of packaging for use in the hospital drug distribution system

The results of the product evaluation process will be incorporated into the scoring of bids received for the Pharmacy Specialties Oncology RFP.  The contract awards meeting with PAC members will be held in September 2018, with the newly awarded contracts to begin June 1, 2019.