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Generic Name: Pembrolizumab [PEM-broe-LIZ-ue-mab]
Name of the Brand: Keytruda
Dosage Format: Intravenous solution (25 mg/mL)
The class of Drugs: Anti-PD-1 and monoclonal antibodies against PD-L1 (immune checkpoint inhibitors)

What Is Pembrolizumab?

Pembrolizumab injection is part of a class of medicines known as monoclonal antibodies. It helps your immune system stop or slow the spread and growth of cancerous cells throughout the body. Pembrolizumab is a form of immunotherapy that blocks the PD-1 (programmed death receptor-1) receptor, which can help keep cancer cells away within the body's immune system.

Pembrolizumab is used as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with other drugs to treat specific types of cancer, such as:

  • The skin (melanoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma);
  • Lung cancer;
  • Neck and head cancer;
  • Classic Hodgkin lymphoma;
  • Primary mediastinal lymphoma of the large B-cells;
  • Cancer of the kidneys, bladder, kidneys, and urinary tract
  • Colorectal cancer;
  • Liver cancer;
  • Triple-negative cancer of the breast;
  • Cancer of the uterus or cervix;
  • Advanced stomach cancer or cancer of the esophageal lining and
  • A type of cancer in which tests in the laboratory show particular DNA mutations.

Pembrolizumab is usually prescribed when cancer is spreading to different areas of the body, can't be treated by surgery or radiation, or if other cancer treatments have failed or stopped working.

For certain types of tumors, pembrolizumab can be given only when your tumor is positive for "PD-L1", or if the tumor has been screened for a particular genetic marker (including "EGFR," "ALK," "HER2/neu," or "TMB").Your doctor will examine the specific type of cancer you have as well as your treatment history and other treatment options in order to decide if pembrolizumab could be suitable for you.


Pembrolizumab could alter the way that your immune system functions. This can cause certain negative side effects that could result in serious medical issues.

Pembrolizumab may result in life-threatening adverse effects. Certain side effects could need to be treated using another medication, or your treatment for cancer might be delayed. You'll need to undergo regular medical tests that aid your doctor in determining whether it's appropriate to continue taking this medicine.

Contact your doctor immediately. If you suffer from issues with your skin, vision, fever, swollen glands, neck stiffness, and chest pain, Also, cough, shortness of breath, joint or muscle pain, pale skin weakness, diarrhea, stomach pain, bloody stool, bleeding or bruising, dark urine, eyes that are yellow, a hormone condition (frequent migraines, feeling lightheaded and tense heartbeats, a deep voice, a greater thirst, the feeling of being cold or chilly, weight loss or gain), or changes in the quantity or color of your urine

Before you take this drug

To ensure that pembrolizumab is suitable for you, inform your doctor if you have previously had:

  • An autoimmune disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn's disease, ulcerative bowel colitis, the autoimmune disorder Lupus, or psoriasis;
  • Have received or are preparing to receive an embryonic stem cell transplant that makes use of donor stem cells.
  • The process of an organ transplant
  • The radiation that hits your chest
  • A disorder of the nerves and muscles, such as myasthenia gravis or Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Pembrolizumab can harm a baby who is not yet born. You may need a pregnancy test to be sure that you're not pregnant. Utilize effective birth control with pembrolizumab for at least 4 months following the last dose. Consult your physician when you get pregnant.

Don't breastfeed during treatment with pembrolizumab or for at least 4 months following the last dose.

How to take Pembrolizumab?

Pembrolizumab is administered in the form of an injection into a vein. It is usually every three to six weeks. Your healthcare professional will offer you the injection.

This medication must be administered slowly, over a period of 30 minutes.

You'll require regular medical tests to aid your doctor in determining whether it is appropriate to continue taking the medication pembrolizumab. Do not miss any follow-up appointments.

What happens If I miss a dose?

Consult your physician for the appropriate treatment in the event that you don't make the appointment for the injection of pembrolizumab.

What happens if I overdose?

In a medical environment, an overdose could be immediately treated.

What should be avoided?

Follow your doctor's advice regarding any limitations on foods, drinks, or activities.

Side effects of Pembrolizumab

Take immediate medical care. If you are experiencing symptoms warning of an allergic reaction (hives, breathing problems, or swelling in your throat or face) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burnt eyes, irritation, or the skin may be red or purple that causes blisters and peeling),

Consult a doctor in the event of a serious drug reaction that affects the body in a variety of ways. Symptoms may include the appearance of a skin rash and fever, swelling of glands, muscle pains, abnormal bruising, severe weakness, or yellowing of your eyes or skin.There are some side effects that can happen when you inject. Inform your physician that you are feeling faint, dizzy, nauseated, or sweaty. or if you experience a headache, chest tightness, back discomfort, breathing problems, or swelling on your face.

Pembrolizumab stimulates an immune system that fights cancerous cells, but it can also target healthy organs and tissues within your body. It could cause dangerous or life-threatening consequences for your lungs, pancreas, kidneys, liver, thyroid glands, intestines, or adrenal glands.

Pembrolizumab may cause serious side effects. Consult your physician right away. If you suffer from:

  • New or worsening cough, chest discomfort, breathlessness;
  • Pale skin, no bleeding or bruising;
  • Extreme muscular pain, muscle weakness, cramps, and neck stiffness
  • Blurry or double vision;
  • Confusion and sleep problems disturbances in mood or behavior;
  • Tingling, numbness, burning discomfort, redness, as well as blisters or numbness on your feet or hands;
  • Flu-like symptoms or fever, sores, swollen glands in your throat, mouth, and nose, or your genital areas;
  • Nausea, extreme stomach pain, or tenderness; stool that is bloody or tarry;
  • Experiencing nausea or feeling uneasy. Feeling uneasy or experiencing pain or swelling in the area of your transplanted organ
  • High blood sugar means increased thirst, more frequent urine, a dry mouth, and the smell of fruity breath.
  • Kidney issues include swelling urine that is bloody, urinating less frequently, and losing appetite. Feeling fatigued or short of breath;
  • Liver issues include swelling around the midsection area, left-side stomach pain, a loss of appetite, dark urine, a clay-coloured stool, jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin),
  • Hormonal issues can cause unusual headaches and sensitivity to light heartbeats that are rapid, excessive sweating, extreme fatigue, weight increase or loss of weight, more thirst or hunger, increased urination, the loss of hair, or experiencing coldness, constipation, a voice that is loud or deep, dizziness, fainting, reduced sex drive,
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia) = pale skin, fatigue, lightheadedness, or sluggish, cold feet and hands.

The treatment for cancer may be delayed or discontinued permanently in the event of certain negative side effects.

Common side effects of pembrolizumab (some tend to be more prevalent with combination chemotherapy) could include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach discomfort, and loss of appetite constipation, diarrhea, and loss of weight;
  • Low level of sodium in the blood or abnormal thyroid levels; kidney and liver function tests;
  • Low blood cell count;
  • Numbness or tingling in your feet or hands; loss of motion in your legs and arms;
  • Bleeding;
  • Discomfort and burning sensations during urination;
  • Headache fatigue or feeling weak sleepiness, headache, or dizziness;
  • Cough, a voice that is hoarse and out of breath;
  • Shifts in your senses of sensation, dry skin, and dry eyes
  • Itching and hair loss; blisters or itching on your feet and hands;
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Discomfort in your muscles joints, bones, or muscles pain in your joints, bones, or muscles
  • Mouth sores or swelling around your nose, mouth, or throat vagina or intestines.

This isn't a complete list of possible side effects, and others could happen. Contact your physician for advice regarding medical adverse effects. You can report any side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Interaction with other drugs

Discuss with your doctor all the other cancer treatments you're receiving.

Other medications may interfere with pembrolizumab. This includes medications that are prescribed and available over the counter, vitamins, and herbal products. Inform your doctor about any other medications you take.



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