There appears to be a growing trend for veterinarians to offer medical oncology therapy as needed for their patients. But as cancer treatments in companion animals become more common, exposure to hazardous drugs will increase. This is extremely dangerous for the clinic staff members involved in administering them!
You can become a highly valued ally for practices by:
- Helping them understand the many benefits of providing medical oncology services to clients (and increasing practice revenue as a result)
- Helping practices limit drug-exposure hazards by following proper safety techniques using the right equipment and tools
- Providing specific guidance on hazardous drug handling protocols, known routes of exposure, and current technologies
Let's look at some of the ways you can bring up the subject of safe, effective oncology services:
First and foremost, as a distributor rep, you have a unique "in" to consult with your veterinary customers.
- Take the opportunity to ask about the current system they use, if any, and guide them to the system that offers the highest level of safety while also meeting their budget and facility needs.
- Explain that by eliminating aerosols, vapors and touch contamination, oncology drugs can be administered without putting the veterinarian and staff at risk. Aerosols and vapors are expected hazards, but most healthcare professionals are not aware of "touch contamination," which means up to 80% of drug vials have residual drug on the outside of the vials.
- Explain that hazardous drugs can spread to other surfaces in the practice.
Where do you get this valued information to share with your customers?
Work with oncology drug manufacturers as well as manufacturer reps for chemotherapy safety products. They can point you to the best literature, videos and other online/electronic media to help discuss how each product is effectively used.
In addition, consider working in joint sales calls with manufacturer representatives so you can provide expert guidance, reference materials to substantiate risk and product claims, and detailed instructions on individual devices and how each meets their patient needs.
A simple call planner checklist should benefit you as you identify sales opportunities:
- Include everything mentioned above.
- Ask your customers the following questions:
- Are you using a closed system transfer device for your hazardous drugs? If so, which one?
- Who does the drug preparation?
- Which drugs do you use?
- Which methods of administration do you prefer? (Identify cross-selling opportunities for IV products, needles, adapters, etc.)
- Be ready to fully demonstrate any products you're featuring or promoting.
- Depending on how chemotherapy drugs are currently handled, help your customers identify a designated area for preparing hazardous drugs.
- You can help practices establish a protocol for handling hazardous drugs including any safety devices that would be used to protect the staff.
It's critical for you to know and understand how dangerous these drugs are to anyone needing to handle them — and to help your customers provide safe, effective solutions.
Talk with manufacturers to understand hazardous safety product options and why you would recommend one over the other. And, be familiar with exposure routes and how each product works to eliminate them.
Veterinary oncology treatment is, in the veterinarian’s mind, a binary choice: they're either comfortable with it and will treat their patients as required, or they're not and will likely refer their patients and clients to specialists.
Veterinarians who administer antineoplastic agents on an infrequent basis are more likely to not have established protocols. Therefore, they may be willing students for you IF you take the time to provide education on safe handling methods and the relevant products. We encourage you to talk with manufacturer reps and open the door to new sales.