Pembrolizumab Injection

Name: Pembrolizumab Injection

Why is this medication prescribed?

Pembrolizumab injection is used to treat several kinds of cancer such as the following: Pembrolizumab injection is in a class of medications called monoclonal antibodies. It works by helping your immune system to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells.

  • melanoma (a type of skin cancer) that cannot be treated with surgery or that has spread to other parts of the body;
  • a certain type of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread to nearby tissues or to other parts of the body (some other types of NSCLC should only be treated with pembrolizumab injection if the cancer has worsened during or after it was treated with other chemotherapy medications);
  • a certain type of head and neck cancer that keeps coming back or has spread to other parts of the body that worsened during or after treatment with other chemotherapy medications;
  • a certain type of Hodgkin's lymphoma (Hodgkin's disease) in children and adults that did not get better with other chemotherapy treatments or got better but returned after being treated 3 or more times with other chemotherapy medications;
  • urothelial cancer (cancer of the lining of the bladder and other parts of the urinary tract) that has spread to nearby tissues or other parts of the body in people who can not receive other types of chemotherapy medications, or whose cancer worsened during or after it was treated with other chemotherapy medications;
  • and certain types of colorectal cancer (cancer that begins in the large intestine) and certain types of solid tumors in children and adults that can not be treated by surgery or that has spread to other parts of the body that worsened after it was treated with other chemotherapy medications.

How should this medicine be used?

Pembrolizumab injection comes as a powder to be mixed with liquid and injected intravenously (into a vein) over 30 minutes by a doctor or nurse in a hospital or medical facility. It is usually injected once every 3 weeks for as long as your doctor recommends that you receive treatment.

Pembrolizumab injection may cause serious reactions during, or shortly after the infusion of the medication. If you experience any of the following symptoms, tell your doctor immediately: flushing, fever, chills, shaking, dizziness, feeling faint, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, itching, rash, or hives.

Your doctor may delay or stop your treatment with pembrolizumab injection, or treat you with additional medications, depending on your response to the medication and any side effects that you experience. Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling during your treatment.

Your doctor or pharmacist will give you the manufacturer's patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment with pembrolizumab injection and each time you receive a dose. Read the information carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website (http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm085729.htm) or the manufacturer's website to obtain the Medication Guide.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before receiving pembrolizumab injection,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to pembrolizumab, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in pembrolizumab injection. Ask your pharmacist or check the Medication Guide for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have ever had an organ transplant and if you have or have ever had radiation therapy to your chest area; an autoimmune disease (condition in which the immune system attacks a healthy part of the body) such as Crohn's disease (condition in which the immune system attacks the lining of the digestive tract causing pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and fever), ulcerative colitis (condition which causes swelling and sores in the lining of the colon [large intestine] and rectum), or lupus (condition in which the immune system attacks many tissues and organs including the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys); any type of lung disease or breathing problems; or liver disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while you are receiving pembrolizumab injection and for 4 months after you receive your final dose. Talk to your doctor about birth control methods that will work for you. If you become pregnant while receiving pembrolizumab injection, call your doctor immediately. Pembrolizumab injection may harm the fetus.
  • tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Your doctor may tell you not to breastfeed while receiving pembrolizumab injection, and for 4 months after you receive your final dose.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

Brand names

  • Keytruda┬«
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