Al Amal centre pioneers new cancer therapy

amal-hospital-oncology28th November 2009 : DOHA Enhanced Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) reporting system at Al Amal Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation’s cancer specialty centre, is set to alter cancer drug therapies in the region.

The system checks how patients are reacting to treatment and helps physicians to alter and give tailor-made treatment to each patient. In a long run, it can also help analyse the incidence of ARD in Qatar and bring about a change in the cancer medication for the region.

ADR is harm associated with the use of given medications at a normal dose. In cancer treatment, the strong mixture of chemotherapy drugs given to patients it self cause ADR. Now, healthcare providers at Al Amal will be able to deal with the symptoms of ADRs more effectively. Though the reporting-system has been in place for long, it is for the first time it has been put to action.

“Physicians have to be aware of what reactions might take place, and what medications the patient is or is not tolerating. In 2008, we received only five ADR reports, but since the formal start of the campaign in March 2009, we have received 44,” said Manal Zaidan, Director of the Al Amal Pharmacy Department.

The reports so far have been able to identify drugs which are more involved with ARDs. The most common ARDs manifest in the form of hypersensitivity, including skin-related inflammations, such as itchiness, flush, and skin redness. Some gastrointestinal, hepatic and haematological reactions were also reported.

“ADRS happen mainly in cancer treatment because of the chemotherapy itself rather than because of any ingredient, as the chemotherapy has started to target the fast-growing cells in the body. The drugs do not necessarily differentiate between these fast-growing cells and the healthy cells, producing detrimental side-effects,” said Dr Khalid Al Siyabi, Al Amal Hospital.

Physicians have been able to minimise long-term health effects of the drug, thanks to the new system. “Medication for majority of the cases were held back and then given at lower. In a few acute cases, medicines were completely stopped, as their immune system would drop to the extent that they will need to be admitted to hospital, and they are more predisposed to infections,” said Dr Muhammed Hafeez Olalekan from Al Amal Hospital

With the system in action, the incidence of ADR in Qatar can be analysed. “Though the system is still at its early stages, the results so far are indicative of the fact that different ethnicities may react differently to the same cancer treatments. The cancer medication used at the Al Amal is developed in the West and trail-tested on there,” said Dr Al Siyabi.

There could also be a possibility of working with the pharmaceutical companies producing cancer-treating drugs to reduce ADRs in the specific ethnic groups.

Al Amal ADR system looks to expand incorporating the reporting of all suspected reactions to new drugs. This will add to the current process which covers all established drugs, with any serious or unusual ADR noted