Combination therapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: an opportunity for pharmaceutical care in a specialty practice.
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To describe the application of pharmaceutical care practices in the administration of new therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals used in the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).At the Antibody Labeling Facility at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the nuclear pharmacist provides support in the formulation, preparation, and quality testing of radiopharmaceuticals. The nuclear pharmacist also provides direct patient care by assisting in the administration of radiopharmaceuticals, monitoring patients during their infusions, and counseling patients on radioimmunotherapy and radiation safety.Expanding the role of the nuclear pharmacist in treating patients with NHL using radiolabeled monoclonal antibodies (MABs).The nuclear pharmacist provides specialized pharmaceutical care by being involved in planning patient care, administering diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals, performing individualized patient dose calculations, monitoring patients, and counseling patients.Number of patients treated with radiolabeled MABs.Since January 1996, 85 patients with NHL have been treated using 131I-tositumomab (Corixa, GlaxoSmithKline), an anti-B1 MAB, under various clinical research protocols requiring specialized pharmaceutical care. The nuclear pharmacist on the team provided direct patient care, assisting with the administration of diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals under a collaborative agreement with a nuclear medicine physician or a radiation oncologist. Other pharmaceutical care activities performed include calculating individual patient doses, obtaining medication histories, counseling patients on their therapy and on radiation safety after early release, and monitoring patients for adverse effects during medication infusion. Patients have responded favorably to nontraditional nuclear pharmacy activities.The nuclear pharmacist has become an important member of the health care team that provides a new and unique therapy for patients with NHL. To date, the nuclear pharmacist, in collaboration with the nuclear medicine physician or the radiation oncologist, has successfully administered the tositumomab and 131I-tositumomab combination therapy without significant incident.