The financial impact of investigational drug services

Rogers, S.D.; Lampasona, V.; Buchanan, E.C.

Topics in Hospital Pharmacy Management 14(1): 60-66


ISSN/ISBN: 0271-1206
PMID: 10133561
Document Number: 7809
The pharmacy-based investigational drug service plays an important role in the clinical research process. Investigators and sponsors often rely on the research pharmacist to assure drug accountability and to assist in educating staff about drug studies, reporting adverse reactions, and providing drug information. While many pharmacy departments across the country have established investigational drug services, there is an increasing need to justify these services from a financial perspective. Our pharmacy department currently provides investigational drug services for over 100 protocols. We have established a fee-for-service billing mechanism, but only 61% of our protocols are drug-company or investigator-sponsored, which reimburse for pharmacy services. As a result, we are unable to collect all operating costs through our billing mechanism. Many protocols, however, are sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which provides free drugs for cancer protocols. Some NCI drugs are also on the market, so the hospital experiences savings in drug costs when patients are placed on certain NCI protocols. When we combine direct costs recovered through billing with the indirect cost savings from dispensing "free drugs, we find that the total benefit of operating an investigational drug service more than outweighs the cost of operating the service.

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The financial impact of investigational drug services