A day in the life of a Catalan oncology pharmacist focused on drug evaluation

By Cristina Ibáñez Collado, Oncology Pharmacist, PharmD, BPS-BCOP, Catalan Institute of Oncology, Catalonia, Spain

I work at the Catalan Institute of Oncology, a comprehensive cancer center, serving approximately 60% of Catalonia’s adult population, which is around 5 million people. We work as a network of 4 different centers in Hospitalet, Badalona, Girona and Tarragona. Our staff includes 26 pharmacist specialists in hospital pharmacy, 27 pharmacy technicians, and 6 administrative support professionals. We also work in alliance with 21 Catalan hospitals.

Catalan Institute Oncology Pharmacy team

My role currently involves drug evaluation, which I have been interested in since my hospital residency program many years ago... (Already 18 years ago, but it seems I finished yesterday). 

After working for a few years in the Catalan Health Service, I returned to the hospital setting, specifically in the field of oncology, which is one of my greatest passions.

Currently, I am the secretary of the Special Medications Subcommittee at our institution, which depends on the Pharmacy and Therapeutic Committee of our institution. Our Committee engages in collaborative and interdisciplinary discussions regarding off-label drug use requests for specific patients. My physical workplace is in l’Hospitalet de Llobregat, near the city of Barcelona, but our decisions impact all the centers of Catalan Institute of Oncology, and the network of allied hospitals in Catalonia as well. On Mondays, every 2 weeks, we make a videoconference to review the requests from the oncology and hematology departments and the occasional discussion of requests from oncology radiotherapy and palliative care services. Our committee is made up of 22 members, including oncologists, hematologists, pharmacists, director and research heads, and the physician requesting the off-label use. The requesting physician presents the clinical case, while the pharmacist provides the supporting evidence for the request. We ultimately try to make the best individual decision based on the available evidence. Although I do not directly interact with patients in the clinic, in my opinion, our work is also considered to be clinically significant.

Additionally, I am also involved in the writing of drug evaluation reports for oncology medications for the Pharmacy and Therapeutic Committee of our institution, for the Catalan Health Service, and for the National network of drug evaluation in Spain (REvalMed). So, I participate at the local, regional, and national levels of drug evaluation. This gives me a deep understanding of the subject matter, but it also comes with great responsibility to make evidence-based decisions while considering efficiency and sustainability aspects.

A significant part of my responsibilities also involves drug outcome evaluation, which is closely related to medication evaluation and off-label use. This includes improving data collection systems and interpreting the collected data to transform it into useful information that enhances the decision-making process.

I also combine my responsibilities with academic teaching, an area that I thoroughly enjoy. Within our unit, we have pharmacy residents from various hospitals across Spain, as well as university pharmacy students. Additionally, I teach final-year pharmacy students at Blanquerna University on topics such as health quality services and drug safety issues. Each year, I am the director of a final degree research project in Pharmacy at Blanquerna University in Barcelona, and this year a student is collaborating with us on a research study regarding anticholinergic burden in oncohematological patients admitted to the hospital. Combining my role in research and teaching allows me to contribute to the development of future pharmacy professionals while furthering my knowledge in the field. 

After a busy day, I always strive to find time for self-improvement and engaging in continuous education activities, which are essential in our field. Moreover, I prioritize carving out time to achieve a balance with my personal life, spending quality time with my husband and two highly energetic children. 

And tomorrow... we return to action!

Cristina Ibáñez Collado