Cancer patients living in North West and South West London are to benefit from a new Joint Working Project between Novartis and the Royal Marsden Partners Cancer Vanguard that aims to improve quality of care in the region by expanding the role of oncology pharmacists.

The parties have launched the Royal Marsden Partners Cancer Vanguard (RMP) Oncology Pharmacy Service Improvement Joint Working Project, a two-year pilot designed to help address increasing demand on oncology services.

Assessing the current oncology pharmacy service functions and skill mix supporting clinical teams, the project will work on and introduce new models of care that strive to improve the delivery of treatment, as well as quality and consistency of care for patients.

Novartis and the NHS team will combine expertise, resources to focus on care in the main solid tumour pathways, including advanced melanoma, breast, lung, and renal cell carcinoma.

It is hoped that the partnership will bring “quantifiable improvements for patients including ensuring quick access to appropriate treatments, accurate drug prescription verification, and address issues with the delivery of treatments, for instance using a mobile chemotherapy bus service to increase convenience to patients,” they said.

“We are optimistic that the models being trialled here could lead to a significant impact at a national level for cancer patients,” noted Jatinder Harchowal, chief pharmacist and clinical director, Medicines Management & Clinical Support Services, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

The project will see the introduction of two new roles, a Consultant Oncology Pharmacist and a New Care Models Pharmacist, who will work together to oversee implementation of new models of care. A new weekly Consultant Oncology Pharmacist clinic at the Royal Marsden hospital will also be established, to provide enhanced care for patients.

The partnership marks the 28th joint working project that Novartis has undertaken with the NHS to date.

“We are proud of our collaborations with the NHS, and believe that Joint Working Projects such as this are vital for advancing oncology care and services, ultimately leading to improving cancer patient outcomes,” said Barak Palatchi, Oncology General Manager, Novartis UK & Ireland.

“This project underpins Novartis’ commitment to patient care, from diagnosis through to treatment, and we look forward to pooling our expertise and resources with the RMP and improving the patient experience.”

Kisqali hits goals in pre-menopausal breast cancer trial

Meanwhile, Novartis today announced positive topline results from the global MONALEESA-7 trial, the second Phase III trial of Kisqali (ribociclib) in advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

The trial met its primary endpoint of progression-free survival (PFS) in premenopausal women with hormone-receptor positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 negative (HR+/HER2-) advanced breast cancer.

The study “is the first CDK 4/6 inhibitor Phase III trial designed specifically for this patient population, and we are excited that the study met its primary endpoint, which may allow us to expand the population of patients who can benefit from treatment with Kisqali,” noted Samit Hirawat, executive vice president and head, Global Drug Development at Novartis Oncology.

The drug was approved in Europe in August for use in combination with an aromatase inhibitor for the first-line treatment of postmenopausal women with hormone receptor positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 negative (HR+/HER2-) locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer.