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Pembrolizumab

Generic Name: pembrolizumab (pem-broe-LIZ-ue-mab)
Brand Name: Keytruda

Pembrolizumab is used for:

Treating certain kinds of melanoma after other medicines have already been tried.

Pembrolizumab is a monoclonal antibody. It works by helping the body's immune system fight a tumor.

Do NOT use pembrolizumab if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in pembrolizumab

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using pembrolizumab:

Some medical conditions may interact with pembrolizumab. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have a history of diabetes, lupus, pancreatitis, lung or breathing problems, stomach or bowel problems, liver problems, or kidney problems
  • if you have problems with your hormone glands (eg, thyroid, pituitary)
  • if you have had an organ transplant

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with pembrolizumab. However, no specific interactions are known with pembrolizumab at this time.

Ask your health care provider if pembrolizumab may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use pembrolizumab:

Use pembrolizumab as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Pembrolizumab comes with an extra patient information sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it carefully. Read it again each time you get pembrolizumab refilled.
  • Pembrolizumab is given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic.
  • If you miss a dose of pembrolizumab, call your doctor to find out what to do.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use pembrolizumab.

Important safety information:

  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take pembrolizumab before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Pembrolizumab may cause very bad side effects. Sometimes these may be life-threatening. These may happen in the lungs, bowels, liver, kidney, pituitary gland, thyroid gland, or other parts of the body. Talk with the doctor.
  • Diabetes patients - Pembrolizumab may raise your blood sugar. High blood sugar may make you feel confused, drowsy, or thirsty. It can also make you flush, breathe faster, or have a fruit-like breath odor. If these symptoms occur, tell your doctor right away.
  • Lab tests may be performed while you use pembrolizumab. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • If you may become pregnant, use an effective form of birth control while you take pembrolizumab and for 4 months after your last dose. If you have questions about effective birth control, talk with your doctor.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Pembrolizumab may cause harm to the fetus. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using pembrolizumab while you are pregnant. It is not known if this medicine is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while you take pembrolizumab.

Possible side effects of pembrolizumab:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Constipation; diarrhea; dizziness; headache; joint pain; mild stomach pain; muscle pain; nausea; not hungry; tiredness; trouble sleeping; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; wheezing); black, tarry, or bloody stools; fainting; fever or chills; pain, redness, warmth, swelling, or tenderness of the skin; seizures; severe muscle pain or weakness; severe stomach pain; severe joint pain; severe or persistent diarrhea; severe or persistent headache or dizziness; severe or persistent tiredness or weakness; signs of high blood sugar (eg, confusion, feeling sleepy, more thirst, more hungry, passing urine more often, flushing, fast breathing, or breath that smells like fruit); signs of kidney problems (eg, unable to pass urine, change in the amount of urine passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain); signs of liver problems (eg, dark urine, easy bruising or bleeding, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, vomiting, or yellow skin or eyes); signs of low sodium levels (eg, headache, trouble focusing, memory problems, change in thinking clearly and with logic, weakness, seizures, or change in balance); signs of lung problems (eg, chest pain or pressure; new or worsening cough; shortness of breath); signs of thyroid problems (eg, fast heartbeat, change in weight without trying, feeling nervous and excitable, feeling restless, feeling very weak, hair thinning, depression, neck swelling, not able to focus, not able to handle heat or cold, menstrual period changes, shakiness, sweating, or voice changes); swelling in the arms or legs; vision changes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of pembrolizumab:

Pembrolizumab is handled and stored by a health care provider. Keep pembrolizumab out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about pembrolizumab, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Pembrolizumab is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take pembrolizumab or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about pembrolizumab. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to pembrolizumab. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using pembrolizumab.

Review Date: August 8, 2016

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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