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The Vital Role of an Oncology Pharmacist: Neal Dave, Pharm.D

September 12, 2022

For a pharmacist, filling prescriptions is only one of the many roles they fulfill when treating cancer patients. Oncology pharmacists also collaborate with care teams, provide deep knowledge of medications, and serve as a vital intermediary between patients and physicians.

Pharmacists are a part of Texas Oncology’s multidisciplinary medical team and help provide comprehensive care for cancer patients. Neal Dave, Pharm.D, executive director of pharmacy services at Texas Oncology, explains the integral role of pharmacists in cancer care and his personal philosophy around putting patients first.

How has pharmacy care for cancer patients evolved?

Cancer medications are far more targeted, and the use of oral oncolytic medications have increased and are expected to continue growing by double digits over the next five years. As drug therapy evolves, oncology pharmaceutical care is becoming more tailored toward each patient’s specific cancer, focusing on managing side effects and ensuring patients are educated about their medications. Additionally, oncology medications have increased in cost within the last decade, and our pharmacy teams play a vital role in helping patients access and afford their medications.

What are the benefits of using Texas Oncology Pharmacy, since many patients already have an established pharmacy?

Texas Oncology Pharmacy is a nationally recognized medically integrated pharmacy. Our specialty trained pharmacists are available to all patients and a key part of each patient’s care team. This collaboration includes close monitoring to help patients stay on track with their medication, which results in better overall care. Also, we provide a one-stop convenience where patients can get prescriptions filled in person or via our mail order pharmacy – saving them yet another trip to pick up medications. We offer concierge-style service to ensure patients not only have access to medications but can also afford them.

With more than 70 pharmacists and 130 pharmacy technicians and support staff at 43 Texas Oncology locations, our team fills more than 220,000 prescriptions per year for more than 66,000 cancer patients. Our expert pharmacy team provides patients with supportive care medications that follow their individual treatment plans and can be seamlessly adjusted as needed.

How would you describe your work to a friend or family member?

My primary role as executive director of pharmacy services is to ensure our pharmacy team is put in a position to help patients receive the best care possible at Texas Oncology. Our pharmacists review, intervene, and safely dispense medications tailored to each patient. We are focused on providing education and serving as the medication experts for patients and their care teams.

What inspired you to pursue a career as a pharmacist?

My interest in pharmacy, specifically in oncology, started during a summer job at a cancer center when I was in college. During my time there, I had a chance to work with a pharmacist who was integrated into a lymphoma patient’s care team. I saw the positive impact of the clinical interventions that were being made by the pharmacist and soon realized I wanted to pursue a career in pharmacy to have the same type of impact.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

The most rewarding part of my job at Texas Oncology is being part of a team that strives to put patients first. Everyone is always working toward enhancing the patient experience and devoted to providing the best cancer care possible.

In recognition of the practice’s evolving pharmacy services, Oncology Pharmacy Services, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Texas Oncology was recently accredited by the Accreditation Commission of Health Care (ACHC) for its excellence in cancer- specific pharmacy care.

Thank you to all our pharmacists for facilitating a higher level of performance as well as the team’s commitment and dedication in helping to deliver comprehensive cancer care to our patients statewide.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.