Common Brand Name(s): Keytruda
Important: How To Use This Information
This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.
Pembrolizumab is used to treat cancer. It works by changing the action of your own immune system, directing it to attack cancer cells. Pembrolizumab belongs to a class of drugs known as monoclonal antibodies.
How To Use
Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start receiving pembrolizumab and each time you get a treatment. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
This medication is given by a health care professional. It is injected slowly into a vein over 30 minutes. It is given as directed by your doctor, usually once every 3 weeks.
Symptoms of a severe infusion reaction that may occur during pembrolizumab treatment include fever, chills, shaking, flushing, trouble breathing, dizziness, or feeling faint. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms during your treatment.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, weight, and response to treatment.
Tiredness, swelling ankles/feet/hands, itchy skin, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or trouble sleeping may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
People using this medication may have serious side effects. Some of these effects may occur even after stopping treatment. However, your doctor has prescribed this drug because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Careful monitoring by your doctor may decrease your risk.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:
- new/worsening cough
- shortness of breath
- diarrhea with blood/mucus
- symptoms of liver disease (such as persistent nausea/vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine)
- signs of kidney problems (such as change in the amount of urine, pink/bloody urine)
- persistent/unusual headache
- vision changes
- deepening of the voice
- eye redness/pain
- sensitivity to light
- numbness/tingling of the arms/legs
- joint stiffness/pain
- muscle weakness/tenderness/pain
- signs of infection (such as sore throat that doesn't go away, fever, chills, burning/painful/frequent/urgent urination)
- easy bruising/bleeding
Pembrolizumab may cause hormone gland problems (such as thyroid, pituitary, adrenal, pancreas). Your body could make too much or too little hormone. Tell your doctor right away if you have any symptoms such as:
- cold or heat intolerance
- unexplained weight loss/gain
- mental/mood changes
- slow/fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat
- unusual tiredness
This medication may rarely make your blood sugar rise, which can cause or worsen diabetes. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of high blood sugar such as increased thirst/urination. If you already have diabetes, check your blood sugar regularly as directed and share the results with your doctor. Your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication, exercise program, or diet.
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including:
- chest pain
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:
- itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
- severe dizziness
- trouble breathing
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before using pembrolizumab, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of:
- organ transplant
People who receive a donor stem cell transplant after treatment with pembrolizumab may have very serious (possibly fatal) complications. Ask your doctor for more details.
This drug may make you dizzy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while using pembrolizumab. Pembrolizumab may harm an unborn baby. Ask about reliable forms of birth control while using this medication and for 4 months after stopping treatment. If you become pregnant, talk to your doctor right away about the risks and benefits of this medication.
It is unknown if this drug passes into breast milk. Because of the possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this drug and for 4 months after stopping treatment is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Lab and/or medical tests (such as liver/kidney/thyroid function, blood sugar, complete blood count) should be done before and during treatment with this medication. Keep all medical and lab appointments. Consult your doctor for more details.
For the best possible benefit, it is important to receive each scheduled dose of this medication as directed. If you miss a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist right away to establish a new dosing schedule.
Not applicable. This medication is given in a hospital or clinic and will not be stored at home.
Information last revised January 2019.
Copyright(c) 2019 First Databank, Inc.
Conditions of use: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for the expertise and judgment of healthcare professionals. The information in not intend to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects nor should it be construed in indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any drug, changing any diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.