An increasing number of cancer drugs are now delivered in oral formulations and the estimates are that 25-35% of all cancer drugs in the research pipeline are orals. Responding to the need of cancer patients to receive oral cancer drugs, and ancillary oral therapies, in a safe, reliable, accessible, and affordable environment that is tightly integrated with their overall cancer care, community cancer clinics have established facilities to dispense oral drugs. Depending on state pharmacy laws, those facilities either operate as drug dispensing clinics or retail pharmacies.
The Community Oncology Pharmacy Association (COPA) was formed in response to the increasing number of community cancer clinics dispensing oral cancer drugs and ancillary therapies. COPA is a non-profit entity, under the direction of COA, that will establish standards, provide information, education, and resources, enhance information exchange, and help advocate for the patient-centric model of integrated, high quality cancer care. Due to the increasing costs of cancer drugs, there are commercial interests, such as specialty pharmacy, attempting to separate oral cancer therapy from the point of care and oncologist control, thus interfering with the physician-patient relationship. As a non-profit focused on enhancing patient care, COPA is in the unique position of serving as a non-commercial organization dedicated to addressing a variety of pharmacy issues, all in the sole interest of patient care.
The mission of COPA is to foster oral cancer therapy that is tightly integrated into cancer patient treatment at the site of care. Specifically, COPA will:
- Help community cancer clinics enhance outcomes of cancer patients treated with oral medications by enhancing the quality, efficiency, and financial viability of dispensing oral cancer drugs, and ancillary oral therapies, in community cancer clinics;
- Establish quality standards, best practice benchmarks, operating procedures, and other clinical/operating processes to enhance patient care;
- Provide a forum for community cancer clinics dispensing orals cancer drugs or operating on-site retail pharmacies to share best practices and information, especially relating to current and proposed regulations from state pharmacy boards;
- Develop the quality/value proposition of “integrated oral cancer treatment” for private payers, Medicare, and primary payers, such as employers and unions and how this integration improves patient care;
- Educate pharmaceutical companies on the clinical/value proposition of “integrated oral cancer treatment” and develop processes/standards for limited or special distribution drugs.