Generic Name: Nivolumab (nye VOL ue mab)
Brand Name: Opdivo
Medically reviewed on July 4, 2018
Uses of Nivolumab:
- It is used to treat cancer.
What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Nivolumab?
- If you have an allergy to nivolumab or any part of nivolumab.
- If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
- If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take nivolumab.
This medicine may interact with other drugs or health problems.
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take nivolumab with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.
What are some things I need to know or do while I take Nivolumab?
- Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
- High blood sugar has happened with nivolumab. This includes diabetes that is new or worse. Talk with the doctor.
- Check your blood sugar as you have been told by your doctor.
- Tell your doctor if you have signs of high blood sugar like confusion, feeling sleepy, more thirst, more hungry, passing urine more often, flushing, fast breathing, or breath that smells like fruit.
- Very bad health problems like some organ problems can happen with nivolumab. This includes lung, liver, thyroid gland, pituitary gland, adrenal gland, kidney, and muscle problems. A very bad rash may also happen. Sometimes, these problems have been deadly. These problems may happen anytime during treatment or after treatment has stopped. Talk with the doctor.
- A certain brain problem has happened with nivolumab. Rarely, this has been deadly. Call your doctor right away if you have a change in thinking clearly or with logic, feeling sleepy, feeling very tired or weak, fever, hallucinations, memory problems, seizures, stiff neck, or very bad headache.
- Some people have had side effects during the infusion. Sometimes, these could be very bad or life-threatening. Tell your doctor if you have any of these side effects during the infusion: back or neck pain, chills or shaking, dizziness, feeling like passing out, fever, flushing, itching, rash, shortness of breath, swelling of the face, or wheezing.
- It is common to have loose stools (diarrhea) with nivolumab. However, a very bad bowel problem (colitis) with diarrhea has happened with nivolumab. This may lead to tears or holes in the bowels and may be life-threatening. Call your doctor right away if you have bloody stools; dark, tarry, or sticky stools; diarrhea; or very bad stomach pain.
- A very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
- If you are having a stem cell transplant, talk with your doctor. Some problems with stem cell transplants using stem cells from someone else (allogeneic) have happened after treatment with nivolumab. These problems can be very bad and can lead to death.
- This medicine may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant.
- Use birth control you can trust to prevent pregnancy while you are taking nivolumab and for 5 months after you stop taking it.
- If you get pregnant while taking nivolumab or within 5 months after your last dose, call your doctor right away.
How is this medicine (Nivolumab) best taken?
Use nivolumab as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.
- It is given as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.
- Tell all of your health care providers that you take nivolumab. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
- This medicine may be used with another drug called ipilimumab. Some side effects that can happen may happen more often if nivolumab is used with ipilimumab. If you are also using ipilimumab, talk with your doctor about the risks and side effects that may happen.
What do I do if I miss a dose?
- Call your doctor to find out what to do.
See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)
What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?
WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
For all uses of nivolumab:
- Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
- Signs of thyroid, pituitary, or adrenal gland problems. Some signs may be change in mood or the way you act, change in weight, constipation, deeper voice, dizziness, fainting, feeling cold, feeling very tired, hair loss, headache that lasts or is very bad, or lowered interest in sex.
- Signs of kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in how much urine is passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain.
- Signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
- Signs of electrolyte problems like mood changes, confusion, muscle pain or weakness, a heartbeat that does not feel normal, seizures, not hungry, or very bad upset stomach or throwing up.
- Signs of lung or breathing problems like shortness of breath or other trouble breathing, cough, or fever.
- Any unexplained bruising or bleeding.
- Muscle pain or weakness.
- Very bad joint pain.
- Swelling in the arms or legs.
- Chest pain.
- Feeling very tired or weak.
- A heartbeat that does not feel normal.
- A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
- Eye problems have happened with nivolumab. Some types of eye problems may need to be treated right away to lower the chance of long-lasting eyesight loss. Call your doctor right away if you have any changes in eyesight, eye pain, or very bad eye irritation.
Bladder cancer treatment:
- Signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI) like blood in the urine, burning or pain when passing urine, feeling the need to pass urine often or right away, fever, lower stomach pain, or pelvic pain.
What are some other side effects of Nivolumab?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
- Bone or joint pain.
- Hard stools (constipation).
- Not hungry.
- Upset stomach or throwing up.
- Belly pain.
- Feeling tired or weak.
- Signs of a common cold.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
How do I store and/or throw out Nivolumab?
- If you need to store nivolumab at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.
Consumer information use
- If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
- Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
- Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
- Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
- Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
- Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
- This medicine comes with an extra patient fact sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it with care. Read it again each time nivolumab is refilled. If you have any questions about nivolumab, please talk with the doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
More about nivolumab
- Nivolumab Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Support Group
- En Español
- 43 Reviews
- Drug class: Anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibodies
Other brands: Opdivo