Making a Difference for a Patient Living with Cancer

Published 10/09/2020
by Kathryn Edwards

This story was shared by Angie Wood, an oncology specialty pharmacist who works on-site at one of Trellis Rx’s partner health systems in the Midwest. 

I have been supporting an elderly patient with metastatic prostate cancer since May 2019. In December 2019, he was prescribed olaparib, but his insurance initially denied the prior authorization because the medication was off label at the time. I was able to get an approval after writing an appeal letter; however, the patient’s copay was extremely high and he could not afford it. Since there were no grants available to him, Maija, our pharmacy liaison, assisted him in getting free medication through the drug manufacturer’s program. She was able to help him get approved and set up his fills with the company, even locating a direct number for their representative to contact him so he could bypass their challenging phone tree.

In August, his cancer had progressed, and I received a prescription for enzalutamide. Sarah, the pharmacy liaison, was able to quickly turn around the prior authorization and enroll him in the health system’s patient assistance fund to cover his copay. I counseled him on the medication right after his appointment with the doctor, and we were able to get him the medication same day it was prescribed. This was incredibly important because he was having pain with his cancer progression, so changing treatment as soon as possible was vital to treat his cancer and get him symptom relief faster.

When I spoke with the patient, he mentioned that his doctor was sending a pain medication to help him get through the weekend, but there were no new prescriptions written. After the patient left the health system pharmacy, I was able to track down the provider and get the prescription sent to the patient’s local pharmacy. I called the patient to let him know where he could pick up the new prescription. A couple of weeks later, I called him to check on how he was doing with the new cancer medication. He reported some nausea and vomiting, so I counseled him on how to time his nausea medication with his meals and the cancer medication to help him with this. He didn’t have any issues after that.

Why is this story meaningful to you?

It is always rewarding to be able to make some aspect of a patient’s cancer journey easier. With this patient, I was able to make an impact by not only helping him get vital medications quickly, but also by ensuring his pain was addressed, providing close follow up on his medication, and helping with side effects. I have enjoyed getting to know him over the year and a half we have been treating him, and being able to see the difference I have made in his treatment has truly been a privilege.

Why do you enjoy about being part of the Trellis Rx team?

As an oncology specialty pharmacist, I really love being able to work closely with cancer patients to educate, give support, and provide close follow-up. The long-term relationships we build with our patients is something so unique about working at Trellis Rx that I really appreciate. The care model at Trellis Rx, which embeds pharmacists and pharmacy liaisons locally at health systems, also gives me the opportunity to work directly with providers to make sure patients can receive their oncology medications safely and quickly. I can make interventions directly with the patients and care team members that make an impact.

Watch our video to learn about practicing pharmacy at Trellis Rx or apply for a job opportunity with Trellis Rx. For more information about the impact of an embedded oncology specialty pharmacists for patients with cancer, read this Pharmacy Times article highlighting our partner Summa Health.