HOPA 14th Annual Conference

By Lisa Holle, Associate Clinical Professor, University of Connecticut, Storrs, USA

The 14th Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) Annual Conference was held March 21-24, 2018 in Denver, Colorado, United States. Denver is located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, with a panoramic view of 140 miles of mountain peaks, 13 of which are greater than 13,000 feet. The 14th HOPA annual conference was attended by over 1,300 pharmacists who care for patients with cancer and had the theme of Targeting the Future of Oncology Pharmacy.

A pre-conference “bootcamp” session on Wednesday morning focused on practice management covering topics of formulary management, inventory control, financial reimbursement, and transitioning into a leadership position. The main conference opened by a welcoming address by the HOPA President, Susannah Koontz and induction of 3 fellows of HOPA (FHOPA). Some of you probably met one of these, Sachin Shah, ISOPP member from Texas Tech University in the United States who joined us last year at the ISOPP Symposium in Hungary. HOPA offers 8 hours of live board certification of oncology pharmacy credits. This year topics included novel clinical oncology trial designs and updates in head and neck cancer, management of CAR-T cell therapy, multiple myeloma, neuroblastoma, physician-assisted suicide and palliative care, and urothelial cancers. The HOPA Award of Excellence was awarded to HOPA (and ISOPP) member R. Donald Harvey of Emory University for his sustained excellence in creating an innovative role for a pharmacist as director of a Phase I program.

The John G. Kuhn keynote speaker was Dr. Ross Camidge, MD, PhD of the University of Colorado who discussed new drug therapies in his talk entitled, “There will be drugs: lessons learned from lung cancer’s therapeutic oil boom.” Another highly sought out session was a panel discussion on molecular tumor boards, pathways, and precision medicine. This session included 4 oncology pharmacists who are playing a key role at their institutions in this area: Cyrine Haider for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Patrick Kiel from Indiana University, Jill Kolesar from the University of Kentucky, and Christine Walko from Moffitt Cancer Center. Embracing the Mid-Career Crisis: Pivoting into New Career Challenges panel session also drew a large crowd. This session had 4 different mid-career oncology pharmacists who discussed their career paths and the challenges and successes they had in making career changes and preventing burnout. Similarly, a round-table discussion on leadership in the multidisciplinary team, career transitions, and within management was very productive in providing excellent ideas for the HOPA Development subcommittee to develop resources and tools for our members on becoming effective leaders and/or managers.

In addition to traditional sessions, this year’s HOPA meeting offered “Meet the Expert” sessions where meeting attendees could have some time to discuss issues with speakers outside of their talk. For example, I gave a talk on Thursday morning about peer reviewing journal articles (hoping to increase JOPP’S high qualified peer review pool) later that day, I was available in the exhibit hall to talk one-on-one with attendees. HOPA board were also available to consult with attendees about the organization and becoming a leader and expert members were available to provide consultation about benefits of and preparing for board certification and research projects.

One exciting thing that occurred during the meeting and is freely available to all ISOPP members are the new oral chemotherapy education sheets. HOPA, along with the Oncology Nursing Society, Association of Community Cancer Centers, and the National Community Oncology Dispensing Association joined together to create a website that houses colorful, fillable pdf versions of oral chemotherapy education pamphlets intended for patient education. These can be printed and contain best practices in terms of information for education of oral chemotherapy. All 70 US Food and Drug Administration approved oral chemotherapy education sheets should be available by our ISOPP Symposium in China and these will be updated as new approvals become available.  The website is: https://www.oralchemoedsheets.com/.

If you are interested in attending a HOPA meeting, there are 2 meetings each year. The HOPA Practice Management Meeting will be held in Chicago, Illinois September 14-15, 2018, and the next annual meeting will be held in March 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Networking with colleagues; Robin Mower, Lisa Holle and Kellie Jones Weddle

Donald Harvey receiving the Award of Excellence