Generic Name: pembrolizumab

Pronunciation: key-TRUE-duh

Abbreviation: N/A

Other Market Name: N/A

Drug Class: Immunotherapy Medications

Company: Merck

Approval Status: Approved

Generic Version Available: No

Experimental Code: N/A

Drug Indication

Keytruda is a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor approved for inoperable or metastatic melanoma, adjuvant treatment of melanoma after surgery, non-small-cell lung cancer, bladder (urothelial) cancer, head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma, primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, Merkel cell carcinoma and for all metastatic solid tumors with high microsatellite instability or mismatch repair deficiency genetic mutations.

General Info

Merck Keytruda pembrolizumabKeytruda is a monoclonal antibody used in cancer immunotherapy. It is a checkpoint inhibitor that blocks the PD-1 receptor on T cells. PD-1 plays a role in regulating immune function. Some tumors can hijack PD-1 to turn off immune responses against them. Drugs that block the interaction between PD-1 and its binding partner, known as PD-L1, can release the brakes and restore T-cell activity.

Studies in the KEYNOTE clinical trials program showed that Keytruda slows progression of several types of cancer, and improves survival for people with some cancers. It was first approved in 2014. It 2017, it was the first drug approved to treat cancer anywhere in the body with specific genetic mutations, known as high microsatellite instability or mismatch repair deficiency or (MSI-H/dMMR), which interfere with a cell’s ability to repair DNA damage.


Dosing Info:

Keytruda is administered as an intravenous infusion. The usual dose is 200 mg for adults, or 2 mg/kg for children, given every three weeks until disease progression occurs.

Side Effects

Common side effects include fatigue, muscle and joint pain, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, itching, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, rash, fever, cough and shortness of breath. Checkpoint inhibitors can cause an overactive immune response that harms healthy organs and tissues. Serious immune-mediated side effects can affect almost any organ including the lungs, liver, kidneys, intestines, skin and hormone-producing endocrine glands.

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Last Reviewed: July 31, 0019