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Robot used to produce cancer drugs at St James’s Hospital


The Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute at St James’s Hospital in Dublin has begun using a robot to produce chemotherapy drugs for cancer patients.

The institute said it is the first hospital in the UK or Ireland to do so.

Chemotherapy is traditionally produced using a highly manual process that is physically intensive, involving the measurement of doses and the reconstitution of commercially sourced drugs.

Staff globally often report repetitive strain injuries due to the labour intensity of production.

Thirteen of the most commonly used cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs used at St James’s Hospital have been initially selected to be produced by the robot.

For the pharmacy staff, the use of the robot protects them from repetitive strain injuries commonly associated with this type of manual process, as well as from exposure to hazardous drugs used in the compounding of chemotherapy.

St James’s Hospital said patients can be assured of the quality of the chemotherapy produced due to the environment in which the robot is housed.

The first patient received their treatment made by the new robot at the Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute today on the hospital campus.

Liz Hogan from Ratoath, Co Meath is being treated for cervical cancer at the hospital and was infused with a customised dose of the chemotherapy produced by the robot.

“I noticed no difference at all when I received my dose of chemotherapy today at St James’s Hospital, but I am reassured by the wonderful staff here who have told me that the new robot will help to ensure the chemo for all the cancer patients like me will be of very high quality,” Ms Hogan said.

The Aseptic Compounding Unit at St James’s Hospital is the busiest in the country, producing 30,000 products annually.

“This is a major step forward for our staff and our cancer patients at the hospital,” Gail Melanophy, Director of Pharmacy at St James’s Hospital said.

“We aim to produce up to 50% of the oncology/haematology day ward’s chemotherapy needs within weeks of introduction and we hope this will significantly increase when at full capacity, including inpatient needs.

“This will free up time for our pharmacists to produce other products that the robot does not make and ensure that our valued patients never have to wait for their treatments,” Ms Melanophy added.

Funds for the new robot were raised by the St James’s Hospital Foundation.


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