Optimisation of pharmacy content in clinical cancer research protocols: Experience of the United Kingdom Chemotherapy and Pharmacy Advisory Service

Philip Debruyne, Philip Johnson, Lies Pottel, Susanna Daniels, Rachel Greer, Elizabeth Hodgkinson, Stephen Kelly, Michelle Lycke, Jens Samol, Julie Mason, Donna Kimber, Eileen Loucaides, Mahesh Parmar, Sally Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Clarity and accuracy of the pharmacy aspects of cancer clinical trial protocols is essential. Inconsistencies and ambiguities in such protocols have the potential to delay research and jeopardise both patient safety and collection of credible data. The Chemotherapy and Pharmacy Advisory Service was established by the UK National Cancer Research Network, currently known as National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network, to improve the quality of pharmacy-related content in cancer clinical research protocols. This article reports the scope of Chemotherapy and Pharmacy Advisory Service, its methodology of mandated protocol review and pharmacy-related guidance initiatives and its current impact.

Over a 6-year period (2008–2013) since the inception of Chemotherapy and Pharmacy Advisory Service, cancer clinical trial protocols were reviewed by the service, prior to implementation at clinical trial sites. A customised Review Checklist was developed and used by a panel of experts to standardise the review process and report back queries and inconsistencies to chief investigators. Based on common queries, a Standard Protocol Template comprising specific guidance on drug-related content and a Pharmacy Manual Template were developed. In addition, a guidance framework was established to address ‘ad hoc’ pharmacy-related queries. The most common remarks made at protocol review have been summarised and categorised through retrospective analysis. In order to evaluate the impact of the service, chief investigators were asked to respond to queries made at protocol review and make appropriate changes to their protocols. Responses from chief investigators have been collated and acceptance rates determined.

A total of 176 protocols were reviewed. The median number of remarks per protocol was 26, of which 20 were deemed clinically relevant and mainly concerned the drug regimen, support medication, frequency and type of monitoring and drug supply aspects. Further analysis revealed that 62% of chief investigators responded to the review. All responses were positive with an overall acceptance rate of 89% of the proposed protocol changes.

Review of pharmacy content of cancer clinical trial protocols is feasible and exposes many undetected clinically relevant issues that could hinder efficient trial conduct. Our service audit revealed that the majority of suggestions were effectively incorporated in the final protocols. The refinement of existing and development of new pharmacy-related guidance documents by Chemotherapy and Pharmacy Advisory Service might aid in better and safer clinical research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-264
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Trials
Issue number3
Early online date4 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Chemotherapy
  • pharmacy aspects
  • cancer
  • clinical trials
  • quality control


Dive into the research topics of 'Optimisation of pharmacy content in clinical cancer research protocols: Experience of the United Kingdom Chemotherapy and Pharmacy Advisory Service'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this