Day 1: Investigational Drug Services

Yesterday was technically "day 1" but it was just orientation. Today was the first experience we had in the pharmacies of UNC Hospitals.

My shadowing today exposed me to a type of pharmacy I had never heard of before. The Investigational Drug Services (IDS) is a pharmacy that dispenses medications like any other. However, the difference is that it only dispenses drugs that are for patients in clinical trials being conducted by hospital clinicians. There are about 450 trials currently being conducted within all the hospitals. While the pharmacy I was in today was in the Neurosciences Hospital (just by chance because the space was available), there is another one in the Cancer Hospital that specializes in oncology drugs because there are so many new drugs coming out for cancer. Around 150 trials alone are in the Cancer Hospital.

I found it very interesting to observe what happens in a research-oriented pharmacy. Clinical trial protocols are given to the pharmacists of IDS, who order the drugs (some of which aren't on the market yet because they are Phase 2 and 3 drugs, and some which are on the market and are being studied for a different indication), and dispense either placebo or drug based on the particular trial design.

It turns out that trials can get very complicated with many layers of comparisons. I was able to read through at least 10 trial notebooks during my 8AM-2:30PM shift. Some were placebo vs. active drug, some where 2 active drug comparisons, some were placebo vs. brand drug vs. generic drug, etc. Whatever you can imagine, there is probably a study design for it.

I learned a lot from today's experience, and was very excited to see the type of pharmacy that acts as a bridge between bench research and clinical application.

On deck for tomorrow: Transitions of Care

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