Experts Outline Best Practices in the Treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

This article was originally published by Pharmacy Times 

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that can be treated to extend the life of some patients even by decades. Treatments and best practices are developing rapidly and health care providers need to stay up to date on all relevant information. In a Pharmacy Times Insights video series, a panel of experts discussed how to best treat and monitor patients living with CLL.

The panel included Alison Duffy, PharmD, BCOP, an associate professor and clinical pharmacy specialist in oncology at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and Cody Steeves, PharmD, BCOP, a clinical pharmacist for Biologics by McKesson.

Both intravenous (IV) and oral CLL medications are available, each with their own benefits and disadvantages. A combination method is also used by many patients, but that also presents a unique set of challenges.

“Some of the economic challenges we’ve seen have been the timely approval of the oral and the IV therapy together because of pharmacy benefits and medical benefits, and so that can be a challenge, especially if a patient’s disease is very aggressive. If they have progressed on ibrutinib it would be really important to start their subsequent therapy very quickly, or it can progress to Richter transformation,” Duffy said. “The economic challenges in improving can be a barrier. As pharmacists, anything we can do to facilitate the approval process, and in the clinic, I can certainly help with the prior authorization process.”

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