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Original Article
Year: 2019 I Volume: 1 I Issue: 2 I Pages: 14-19

Assessment of Oral Chemotherapeutic Agents Safe Handling Among Healthcare Professionals in Saudi Arabia

Nagwa Ibrahim 1*, Meznah Al Mutairi 2, Mona Al Onazi 2

1 Prince Sultan Military Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

2 Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

* Corresponding Author:

Nagwa Ibrahim, Pharm D, PhD

Email address:

Source of support: None


Conflict of interest: None

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Introduction: Traditionally, chemotherapeutic agents are administered as an intravenous infusion. Over the past decade, oral chemotherapy drugs are used increasingly as a treatment modality. The risk of harm and toxicities of oral chemotherapy compared to intravenous dosage form are the same. Application of best practice to ensure safe storage, handling, administration and disposal of oral chemotherapeutic agents is necessary to prevent exposure of the environment, healthcare professionals, patients, family members and caretakers to hazardous substances. 

Objectives: The objectives of this study are to assess the knowledge of pharmacy staff and oncology nurses about safe handling of oral chemotherapy and to establish recommendations based on study results. Materials and methods: A descriptive survey design was developed. Data was collected through a structured questionnaire consisting of 5 sections (demographic data, storage, handling, disposal & cleaning of contaminated materials and training & education). Data was analyzed using IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, version 17. Results: We collected 1000 surveys from four major tertiary care hospitals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Most of the surveys were completed by pharmacists (52.6%), pharmacy technicians (26.7%) and oncology nurses (20.7%). The majority of participants had 2-5 years of experience (36.8%). Females composed 58.9% of the study population with five hundred eighty nine participants. Most of participants were working in the inpatient pharmacy (42%). Separating oral anticancer agents (OACAs) from non chemotherapeutic agents was acknowledged by 93.8%. On the other hand, only 16.8% of the participants reported that OACAs should not be stored in alphabetical order with other non chemotherapeutic drugs. Less than half of the participants (42.9%) confirmed the equal risk of harm of OACAs versus intravenous form of chemotherapy. Conclusions: Our results demonstrated lack of knowledge among pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and oncology nurses regarding the risk of harm related to OACAs versus intravenous form of chemotherapy. Therefore, we recommend further education, awareness, development, and implementation of best practice guidelines about oral chemotherapy drugs safe handling in order to prevent any harmful effects to healthcare professionals and caregivers dealing with chemotherapy.  

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