The Role of the Pharmacist in Optimizing Cancer Immunotherapy: A Retrospective Study of Nivolumab Adverse Events.

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Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) are an emerging treatment in cancer therapy for prolonging life, minimizing symptoms, and selectively targeting cancer. Program death 1 (PD-1) inhibitors, such as nivolumab, fall within this class, enabling the patient’s immune system to detect and destroy cancer. The introduction of ICIs is changing cancer therapy, with new drugs and new toxicities-an evolving area encountered by pharmacists.This study aims to compare the pattern of nivolumab-induced adverse events observed in practice, when compared with clinical trial and literature data. The secondary aim of the study is to identify the presentation and treatment modalities initiated in practice.We performed a retrospective case note review across 2 South Australian hospitals to identify the common toxicities and symptomatic treatments experienced by patients receiving nivolumab. Results were compared with clinical trial data from product innovator Bristol-Myer Squib and other published literature.Seventy patients were included in the study; of these, 60 (86%) experienced any grade adverse event(s). A total of 59 (84%) of 70 experienced mild to moderate grade 1 to grade 2 adverse events and 10 (14%) of 70 patients experienced severe grade 3 to grade 4 adverse events, displaying some consistencies with clinical trial and published literature data. Together, the prevalence of adverse events with details on presentation and treatments illustrates possible pharmacy practice strategies and areas for intervention.The listed prevalence of adverse events and practice strategies identified throughout this study highlights how pharmacists may assist in the identification of predictable ICI toxicities associated with gastrointestinal, endocrine, dermatological toxicities, and fatigue.

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Authors: Bradley D Menz, Jacinta L Johnson, Davina F Gillard, William Chong, Michael B Ward