Specialty Pharmacy

Safe Handling

The Journal of Oncology Practice offers these tips for the safe handling of Chemotherapy products.

Dos for Oral Chemotherapy

  • On receiving your prescription, review the package label, specifically checking medication name and dosage.
  • Ensure that you completely understand when and how to take the medication and ask questions if there is any confusion.
  • Transport and store medicine as instructed and as outlined in the packaging label.
  • Use gloves if possible and wash hands thoroughly before and after glove application.* If gloves are not worn, tip tablets and capsules from their container/blister pack directly into a disposable medicine cup.
  • Administer the medication as instructed.
  • Keep a journal of adverse effects. Make a list of adverse effects for which the health care professional has to be contacted immediately.
  • Consider using adherence devices. Use separate devices for cytotoxic and noncytotoxic agents.
  • Report any overdosing immediately.
  • Keep information ready for necessary action in the event of accidental exposure (including emesis and accidental ingestion).
  • Return wet, damaged, unused, discontinued, or expired medications to the pharmacist or hospital for disposal.
  • Report all medications (prescription and nonprescription as well as complementary and alternative medicines) and any specific dietary requirements to the health care provider/prescriber, at the time of assessment and consultation. Inform other health care professionals that you are on oral chemotherapy (eg, surgeons and dentists).
  • Minimize the number of individuals coming in contact with the cytotoxic medications.
  • Wash the patient’s clothes and bed linen separately from other items.*
  • Double-flush the toilet after use, during use of and 4 to 7 days after discontinuing oral chemotherapy.

Don’ts for Oral Chemotherapy

  • Leave medication in open areas, near sources of water, direct sunlight, or where they can be accessed by children or pets.
  • Store medications in the areas where food or drinks are stored or consumed.
  • Crush, break, or chew tablets.
  • Double-up on doses, unless instructed by a health care professional.
  • Share prescriptions or medication.
  • Assume that oral chemotherapy is safer than intravenous chemotherapy.
  • Skip doses unless instructed by your physician.
  • Discard medication down the toilet or in the garbage.

* It is recommended that caregivers wear gloves at all times while handling oral chemotherapeutic agents as well as contaminated items in order to minimize risk of exposure.

You may download the complete document here:
Safe Handling of Oral Chemotherapeutic Agents in Clinical Practice: Recommendations From an International Pharmacy Panel (pdf)