Nanaz Amini is a trained oncology pharmacist with a background in laboratory work and clinical training at the US Food and Drug Administration. She uses this expanded knowledge base to inform her consultations about problems and hurdles that arise during cancer treatment, some of which go beyond the traditional areas of oncology pharmacy.
At the Angeles Clinic and Research Institute, Nanaz is responsible for ordering all of the drugs for both research and general clinic, and for overseeing infusions at both sites. In addition, she oversees the dispensing of drugs for the 25 or 30 clinical trials in various phases of development. She participates in discussions about eligibility for clinical trials, consulting on dosing and dose reductions, and mixing of chemotherapy drugs, as well as all clinical trials for blinded studies. She is also the point person for trying to obtain compassionate drugs for patients who meet certain requirements. “I am a jack of all trades,” she said.
She is spearheading a major initiative to develop an oral chemotherapy pharmacy on site, which would provide “one-stop shopping” for patients. “This would make it easier and more comforting for cancer patients and ease the psychological burdens,” she said.
Her goals in treating patients are to make the treatment as pleasant as possible, manage the side effects, provide patient education at a level that patients can understand, and overcome hurdles to accessing the best care driven evidence-based medicine. This can mean negotiating with insurance companies to approve certain off-label treatments.
“We want to give every patient we treat individualized care,” she emphasized. Patience and empathy are key professional skills in her role as oncology pharmacist. “Building a good rapport with patients is essential, and I am always available to discuss any concerns, many are not drug related,” she added, for example, anxiety about a port-a-cath. “A patient is not just a number. The human touch is key, you need to consider the patient’s context, that is, age-related concerns. An older patient has different issues than a middle-aged one, “she noted.
Nanaz is involved in clinical trials of cutting-edge therapies, including BRAF inhibitors, MEK inhibitors, and PD-1 antibodies. About 35 % to 50% of these trials are in early stages.
Omid Hamid, M.D., Chief of Clinical Research at the Angeles Clinic, nominated Nanaz for the T.O.P Pharmacist Award based on the following, “She has integrated herself into the fabric of clinical care and research at our institute. With the advent of new treatments, such as PD-1 antibodies, she has worked to assure patients will receive these
paradigm-shifting therapies and helped patient accrual to clinical trials and patients’ understanding of therapy. Through her conduct and dedication, our small research institute has done many special things, including multiple national and international presentations. She has continued to educating her peers and become a leader in her field. We are fortunate to have this special person.