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Generic Name: nivolumab (nye VOL ue mab)
Brand Names: Opdivo

Medically reviewed by Sophia Entringer, PharmD Last updated on Jul 1, 2019.

What is Opdivo?

Opdivo (nivolumab) is a cancer medicine that is used alone or in combination with other medicines that works with your immune system to interfere with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Opdivo may be used to treat:

Opdivo is often given when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, or cannot be surgically removed, or has come back after prior treatment.

For some types of cancer, Opdivo is given only if your tumor has a specific genetic marker (an abnormal "EGFR" or "ALK" gene).

Important Information

Opdivo can cause side effects in many different parts of your body. Some side effects may need to be treated with other medicine, and your cancer treatments may be delayed.

Call your doctor at once if you have: chest pain, cough, shortness of breath, vision changes, severe muscle pain or weakness, diarrhea and severe stomach pain, blood in your stools, little or no urinating, swelling, bruising or bleeding, dark urine, yellowing of the skin or eyes, skin sores, confusion, hallucinations, a seizure, or a hormonal disorder (frequent headaches, feeling light-headed, increased thirst or urination, a deeper voice, feeling cold, weight gain or loss).

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Opdivo if you are allergic to nivolumab.

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

Do not use Opdivo if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 5 months after your last dose.

You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

How is Opdivo given?

Opdivo is given as an infusion into a vein by a healthcare provider. The infusion must be given by slow infusion over at least 30 minutes.

Opdivo is usually given once every 2 to 4 weeks. Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with this medicine.

Your doctor will perform tests to make sure this medicine is the best treatment for your type of cancer.

You may be given medication to treat or prevent certain side effects of nivolumab.

Opdivo can cause side effects in many parts of your body by changing how your immune system works. Some side effects may be treated with other medicine, and your cancer treatments may be delayed or stopped.

You will need frequent medical tests to help your doctor determine if it is safe for you to keep receiving Opdivo.

Opdivo dosing information

Usual Adult Dose of Opdivo for Melanoma - Metastatic:

Dose: 3 mg/kg or 240 mg IV infusion every 2 weeks Duration of therapy: Continue therapy until disease progresses or unacceptable toxicity occurs.
-This drug has been approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval will be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

Use: For the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma and disease progression following ipilimumab and, if BRAF V600 mutation positive, a BRAF inhibitor

Usual Adult Dose of Opdivo for Lung Cancer:

Usual Adult Dose:
Dose: Dose: 3 mg/kg or 240 mg IV infusion every 2 weeks
Duration of therapy: Continue therapy until disease progresses or unacceptable toxicity occurs.

Use: Metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy

What happens if I miss a dose?

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

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while receiving Opdivo?

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

Opdivo side effects

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

Some side effects may occur during the injection. Tell your caregiver right away if you feel dizzy, light-headed, short of breath, itchy, tingly, chilled, or feverish.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe or ongoing diarrhea, severe stomach pain, bloody or tarry stools;

  • new or worsening skin rash, itching, or blistering;

  • sores or ulcers in your mouth, nose, rectum, or genitals;

  • changes in your vision;

  • severe muscle weakness, ongoing pain in your muscles or joints;

  • (if you have had a stem cell transplant) feeling sick or uneasy, with pain or swelling near your transplanted organ;

  • lung problems - new or worsening cough, chest pain, feeling short of breath;

  • symptoms of brain swelling - confusion, headache, memory problems, hallucinations, neck stiffness, drowsiness, seizure (convulsions);

  • kidney problems - little or no urinating; blood in your urine; swelling in your feet or ankles;

  • liver problems - severe nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, upper stomach pain, drowsiness, easy bruising or bleeding, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or

  • signs of a hormonal disorder - frequent or unusual headaches, dizziness, fainting, mood or behavior changes, increased thirst or urination, constipation, hair loss, sweating, hoarse or deepened voice, feeling cold, weight gain, or weight loss.

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

Common Opdivo side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation;

  • feeling weak, tired, or short of breath;

  • cold symptoms such as runny or stuffy nose, cough, sore throat;

  • fever, body aches;

  • skin rash, itching; or

  • headache, back pain.

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.

What other drugs will affect Opdivo?

Other drugs may interact with nivolumab, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines 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 Opdivo only for the indication prescribed.

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