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Yervoy

Generic Name: ipilimumab (IP i LIM ue mab)
Brand Name: Yervoy

Medically reviewed on December 31, 2017.

What is ipilimumab?

Ipilimumab is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Ipilimumab is used to treat melanoma (skin cancer) that cannot be treated with surgery, or that has spread to other parts of the body.

Ipilimumab is also used to prevent melanoma from coming back after surgery, including lymph node removal.

Ipilimumab may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Serious and sometimes fatal reactions may occur during treatment with ipilimumab or months after stopping.

Call your doctor at once if you have symptoms such as:

  • diarrhea, increased bowel movements, black or bloody stools, stomach tenderness;

  • right-sided upper stomach pain, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), easy bruising or bleeding;

  • unusual muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in your hands or feet;

  • unusual headaches, feeling cold or tired, weight gain, dizzy spells, mood changes, irritability, confusion;

  • mouth sores, skin rash with or without itching, blistering or peeling, skin sores with bleeding; or

  • eye pain or vision problems.

Before taking this medicine

You should not receive ipilimumab if you are allergic to it.

To make sure ipilimumab is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Ipilimumab may harm an unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 3 months after your last dose. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant.

In animal studies, ipilimumab caused stillbirth, premature delivery, low birth weight, miscarriage in the third trimester, and infant death. However, very high doses are used in animal studies. It is not known whether these effects would occur in people using doses recommended for human use. Ask your doctor about your individual risk.

It is not known whether ipilimumab passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are receiving ipilimumab and for at least 3 months after your last dose.

Ipilimumab is not approved for use by anyone younger than 12 years old.

How is ipilimumab given?

Ipilimumab is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

This medicine must be given slowly, and the infusion can take at least 90 minutes to complete.

When used to treat melanoma, ipilimumab is usually given once every 3 weeks for up to 4 doses. When used to keep melanoma from coming back after surgery, additional doses are given once every 12 weeks for up to 3 years, or until your body no longer responds to the medicine.

Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

You may be given other medications to treat or prevent certain side effects of ipilimumab.

You may need frequent medical tests to be sure this medicine is not causing harmful effects. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your ipilimumab injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Since ipilimumab is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid while receiving ipilimumab?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Ipilimumab side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Serious and sometimes fatal reactions may occur during treatment with ipilimumab or months after stopping. Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as:

  • diarrhea, increased bowel movements, black or bloody stools, stomach tenderness;

  • right-sided upper stomach pain, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), easy bruising or bleeding;

  • unusual muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in your hands or feet;

  • unusual headaches, feeling cold or tired, weight gain, dizzy spells, mood changes, irritability, confusion;

  • mouth sores, skin rash with or without itching, blistering or peeling, skin sores with bleeding; or

  • eye pain, or vision problems.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe stomach pain, bloating, constipation, or vomiting;

  • loss of bowel control;

  • trouble with daily activities;

  • heavy sweating, hot and dry skin, feeling very thirsty or hot;

  • little or no urinating;

  • severe upper stomach pain spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate;

  • fever, cough, trouble breathing; or

  • chest pain, feeling short of breath (even with mild exertion), swelling, rapid weight gain.

Your cancer treatments may be delayed or permanently discontinued if you have certain side effects.

Common side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect ipilimumab?

Other drugs may interact with ipilimumab, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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