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SARS-CoV-2 and cancer (EONS-ECPC)

CN43 - Maintaining intravenous anti-cancer systemic therapy during COVID: Pharmacy and nursing factors


22 Sep 2021


SARS-CoV-2 and cancer (EONS-ECPC)


Richard O'Dwyer


Annals of Oncology (2021) 32 (suppl_5): S1273-S1274. 10.1016/annonc/annonc696


R.T. O'Dwyer1, W. Connolly1, S. Hamilton1, S. Kelly1, A. Lynch1, F. Martin1, K. Dempsey1, A. Rondthaler1, B. Ryan1, A. Byrne1, R. Corrigan1, R. Lawless1, L. Conlon2, P. Hickey2, A. Manning2, K. Egan3, O.S. Breathnach1, C. O'Shea1, A. Christie1, L. Treanor1

Author affiliations

  • 1 Medical Oncology, Beaumont Hospital, D09 FT51 - Dublin/IE
  • 2 Oncology Pharmacy, Beaumont Hospital, D09 FT51 - Dublin/IE
  • 3 Cancer Clinical Trials Unit, Beaumont Hospital, D09 FT51 - Dublin/IE


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Abstract CN43


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of the practice of oncology around the world. COVID was first detected in Ireland on 29/2/20. Many oncology units saw dramatic changes in activity in the face of rising infection rates. We aim to assess compare pharmacy activity, day unit systemic therapy adminstration and nursing staffing levels during the pre- and COVID periods.


Hospital information systems were used to retrieve numbers of patients attending, numbers and types of items dispensed by pharmacy, and available nurses to deliver the systemic therapies from March 2019 to Feb. 2021. The data was analysed to identify trends in prescribing and dispensing practices for this period. Supportive medications such as anti-emetics, bisphosphosphonates were not included. Subgroup analysis on numbers of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, monoclonal antibody drugs dispensed per month was performed. A paired t-test was used to compare means.


9410 non-clinical trials and 411 clinical trials items were dispensed from March 2019 until February 2020 (pre-COVID) for 11,606 patient attendances. From March 2020 until February 2021 (COVID period), 8931 non-clinical trials and 826 clinical trials items were dispensed for 10818 patient attendances. The mean number of non-clinical trials items dispensed per month were 784 and 744 respectively, with no statistical difference being found (p=0.11). There was a doubling in the number of clinical trials agents dispensed. The mean number of nurses available to administer therapies per day was 5.7 (SD=0.78) compared to the projected 7.8 WTE (whole time equivalents) ideally required. Table: CN43

Mean number of dispensed non-clinical trial agents per month per time period

pre-COVID (3/19-2/20) COVID (3/20-2/21) p-value
Chemotherapy 598 544 0.03
Immunotherapy 52 57 0.29
Monoclonal antibodies 134 133 0.084


Despite COVID restrictions it was possible to administer comparable numbers of cancer treatments throughout the COVID period, when compared to the previous year despite modest nursing staff numbers due to the dedication and selflessness of nursing, oncologists and oncology pharmacy staff.

Clinical trial identification

Editorial acknowledgement

Legal entity responsible for the study

The authors.


Has not received any funding.


All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.

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