Keytruda

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Update Date 12/05/2020
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Uses

What is Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) used for?

Keytruda® is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Keytruda® is used to treat:

  • Advanced skin cancer (melanoma) that has spread to other parts of the body or cannot be surgically removed.
  • A certain type of non-small cell lung cancer, if your tumor has a specific genetic marker for which your doctor will test
  • Head and neck cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, or has come back after prior treatment.
  • Classical Hodgkin lymphoma in adults and children.
  • A certain type of bladder and urinary tract cancer that has spread to other parts of the body or cannot be surgically removed.
  • A type of cancer that laboratory testing proves to be a microsatellite instability-high or a mismatch repair deficiency solid tumor.

Keytruda® is often given after other cancer medicine has been tried without success.

How should I take Keytruda® (pembrolizumab)?

Keytruda® is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Keytruda® is usually given once every 3 weeks. Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with this medicine. Follow your doctor’s dosing instructions.

Before you start treatment, your doctor will perform tests to make sure Keytruda® is the best treatment for your type of skin cancer.

Keytruda® can cause certain side effects by changing the way your immune system works. These side effects can cause symptoms in many different parts of your body. Some side effects may need to be treated with other medicine, and your cancer treatments may be delayed or stopped altogether.

You will need frequent medical tests to help your doctor determine if it is safe for you to keep receiving Keytruda®. Do not miss any follow-up visits to your doctor.

How do I store Keytruda® (pembrolizumab)?

Keytruda® is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store Keytruda® in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of Keytruda® that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush Keytruda® down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using Keytruda® (pembrolizumab)?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • You have allergy with any of active or inactive ingredients of Keytruda® or other medications.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.

To make sure Keytruda® is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • A lung disease or a breathing disorder
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • A thyroid disorder
  • An autoimmune disorder such as lupus, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis
  • An organ transplant

Keytruda® can change the way your immune system works, which may cause certain side effects that can lead to serious medical problems.

The side effects of Keytruda® can cause symptoms in many different parts of your body. Some side effects may need to be treated with other medicine, and your cancer treatments may be delayed. You will need frequent medical tests to help your doctor determine if it is safe for you to keep receiving Keytruda®. Do not miss any follow-up visits to your doctor.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using Keytruda® during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking Keytruda®. Keytruda® is pregnancy risk category D, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown

Side effects

What side effects can occur from Keytruda® (pembrolizumab)?

Get emergency medical help if you have any signs of an allergic reaction to Keytruda®: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Some side effects may occur during the injection. Tell your caregiver right away if you feel dizzy, light-headed, itchy, hot or cold, sweaty, tingly, feverish, or if you have trouble breathing.

Keytruda® can change the way your immune system works, which may cause certain side effects that can lead to serious medical problems.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • New or worsening cough, chest pain, feeling short of breath
  • Pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding
  • Severe muscle weakness, severe or ongoing muscle aches, joint pain
  • Diarrhea or increased stools, severe stomach pain, stools that contain mucus, black/bloody or tarry stools
  • Low levels of sodium in the body – confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady
  • Signs of a hormonal disorder – frequent or unusual headaches, vision problems, feeling light-headed or very tired, rapid heartbeats, mood or behavior changes, hoarse or deepened voice, increased hunger or thirst, increased urination, constipation, hair loss, sweating, feeling cold, weight gain, or weight loss
  • Symptoms of a kidney problem – urinating more or less than usual, pelvic pain, vomiting, swelling in your ankles or feet, pain or burning when you urinate, bloody or cloudy urine
  • Liver problems – loss of appetite, right-sided stomach pain, easy bruising or bleeding, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

Your cancer treatments may be delayed or permanently discontinued if you have certain side effects.

Common side effects may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation
  • Low sodium levels, abnormal liver function tests
  • Itching or rash
  • Fever, cough, feeling short of breath
  • Pain in your muscles, bones, or joints
  • Feeling tired

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Interactions

What drugs may interact with Keytruda® (pembrolizumab)?

Keytruda® may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Does food or alcohol interact with Keytruda® (pembrolizumab)?

Keytruda® may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with Keytruda® (pembrolizumab)?

Keytruda® may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using Keytruda® (pembrolizumab).

What is the dose of Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Melanoma – Metastatic:

2 mg/kg IV infusion over 30 minutes.

Duration of therapy: Administer every 3 weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

What is the dose of Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) for a child?

The dosage has not been established in pediatric patients. It may be unsafe for your child. It is always important to fully understand the safety of the drug before using. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How is Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) available?

Keytruda® is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Injection, powder, lyophilized, for solution: pembrolizumab 50mg in 2mL

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of Keytruda®, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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