Supporting oncology practices and patients with reliable access to medicines
When facing a serious illness such as cancer, the last thing one should be concerned about is whether the correct medicine for treatment, or the management of pain, will be delivered when it is needed.
At Medipost specialised staff and dedicated pharmacists work behind the scenes to ensure the reliable supply of medication, so that oncologists and patients can focuson the treatment plan that will get patients well again.
“Pharmacists and all staff members who are involved in the packaging, labelling, checking and delivery of patient-ready medicines required for cancer care, may have an inconspicuous role in the treatments patients receive – but it is nonetheless a crucial role,” explains Amanda Busch, oncology manager for Medipost Pharmacy.
“From the safe handling of the chemotherapy and other specialised medicines in our facility, to the special precautions we use to make sure that these medicines reach the oncology practice or the patient’s home address with their pharmacological integrity intact, each member of the team is dedicated to ensuring that our operations run like clockwork,” adds Busch.
“This means that the people who rely on the medicines we supply, need not spare a second thought to the aspects we are responsible for – and this is exactly how it should be.”
Marita van Rooyen, who is responsible for production in the oncology and special medicines department at Medipost Pharmacy, says that staff understand that their work in preparing medicine parcels for delivery is ultimately a responsibility and commitment towards the patient who will benefit from the medicine.
“We see the parcels as so much more than the sum of their contents and packaging. We may not be able to take away the worries of a cancer patient, but we do our part by making sure that when patients arrive at the treatment room, all of their medicines are there, correct and in optimal condition, and ready for use.”
Medipost Pharmacy further assists in obtaining authorisation from medical schemes on behalf of patients and arranging for private payment where required. The administrative staff who are involved in this side of the operations are fully versed in the facilitation of authorisations and have built up long-standing professional relationships with the staff of managed care organisations.
“Our staff are trained to ensure medicines are claimed from the correct benefit category, which means there is often no need for patients to make co-payments, or these out-of-pocket payments are limited as far as possible for patients,” Busch adds.
The company also assists patients with direct home deliveries for hormonal treatments, oral chemotherapy and pain management, as well as chronic medication. Certain of these medicines must be kept cold to preserve the efficacy, safety or quality of the compounds, and Medipost has developed systems to ensure that the cold chain is maintained throughout the process until delivery.
“At our medicine handling and packaging facility, cold chain items are kept in walk-in refrigerators, which have multiple temperature probes that constantly measure the temperature while sending a reading to the central server,” Van Rooyen adds.
If the temperature rises or falls outside the ideal range, warning SMSes are automatically sent to the responsible staff, including management and maintenance staff, so that the situation can immediately be addressed before it impacts the efficacy of the medicine.
“The medicines we transport to the oncology practices are delivered in cold chain boxes, which are lined with expanded polyurethane, packed with frozen gel packs, and a tight fitting lid. Temperature probes ensure that the cold chain is maintained within parcels on all delivery routes, so that the medicines arrive in pristine condition.”
Expiry dates are meticulously checked, and the company does not issue any medicines that are within six weeks of the best before date except in special circumstances and in agreement with the practice or patient, on the strict proviso that the course of treatment will be completed well within the expiry date.
“Although our main contact is with the oncology practices, we also assist patients, their families and support networks directly, as well as charities raising funds for treatments. Our pharmacists and pharmacist’s assistants are available to give specialised telephonic counselling and advice relating to the medicines we provide in all 11 South African official languages,” Busch says.
“We are aware that the patients we serve and their families are going through life-changing events, and that they rely on our service for the medicines they need for their treatments, and managing pain or other symptoms. Every day we are committed to these patients and ensuring everything runs smoothly,” she concludes.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Medipost Pharmacy
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster