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What is the difference between Opdivo and Keytruda?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on April 3, 2024.

Official answer


Opdivo (nivolumab) and Keytruda (pembrolizumab) are two immunotherapy drugs for various cancers. Both are monoclonal antibodies, known as PD1 inhibitors, first approved in 2014. Opdivo is from Bristol Myers Squibb, and Keytruda is from Merck & Co.

The main differences lie in dosing, combination therapies, and approved cancer types.

Opdivo Vs Keytruda Dosing Frequency

Opdivo: Given via 30-60 min IV infusion every 2-4 or 6 weeks.
Keytruda: Given via 30 min IV infusion every 3-6 weeks.

Opdivo Vs Keytruda Combination Therapy

Opdivo is used with drugs like:

  • Ipilimumab (Yervoy)
  • Carbozantinib (Cabometyx)
  • Cisplatin (Platinol)
  • Gemcitabine (Infugem).

Keytruda is used with drugs like:

  • Pemetrexed (Alimta) and platinum chemotherapy
  • Carboplatin (Paraplatin) and either paclitaxel or paclitaxel protein-bound (Abraxane)
  • Platinum and flurouracil
  • Trastuzumab (Herceptin) plus fluoropyrimidine- and platinum-containing chemotherapy
  • Axitinib (Inlyta)
  • Lenvatinib (Lenvima)
  • Chemotherapy.

Both drugs are also used alongside fluoropyrimidine- and platinum-containing chemotherapy for treating certain gastric cancers.

Related questions

Opdivo Vs Keytruda Approved Uses

Keytruda is approved for additional cancer types, including non-small cell lung cancer (as a first-line treatment), cervical cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma, Primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, endometrial carcinoma, biliary tract cancer, tumor mutational burden-high cancer, and triple-negative breast cancer.

Opdivo was the first for adjuvant treatment of high-risk urothelial carcinoma, and is also used for pleural mesothelioma (cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and chest wall), and colorectal cancer.

Both are used for various other cancers, including:

  • skin cancers
  • lung cancer
  • kidney cancer
  • classical Hodgkin lymphoma
  • cancer of the stomach and esophagus
  • squamous cell cancer
  • bladder cancer
  • liver cancer.

*There are slight differences in approval specifics between Opdivo and Keytruda, such as if they are approved first-line or just for advanced (metastatic) cancer.


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