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Updated on 24 Apr 2024

pembrolizumab Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Warnings & Dosing

What dosages is pembrolizumab available in?

What dosages is pembrolizumab available in?

pembrolizumab is available as a 100 mg/4 mL (25 mg/mL) injection for IV use.

What is pembrolizumab used for?

What is pembrolizumab used for?

pembrolizumab is a PD-1 inhibitor and is used for the following:

  • Melanoma
  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma
  • Bladder cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Biliary tract cancer
  • Renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer)
  • Cervical cancer
  • Endometrial carcinoma (uterine cancer)
  • Triple-negative breast cancer
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell skin carcinoma
  • Cancers with high tumor mutation burden (TMB-H), high microsatellite instability (MSI-H), or deficient mismatch repair (dMMR)
How does pembrolizumab work?

How does pembrolizumab work?

pembrolizumab is an immunotherapy medication that blocks the PD-1 pathway. It’s also called a PD-1 inhibitor or checkpoint inhibitor. By blocking the PD-1 pathway, pembrolizumab helps the immune system find and recognize cancer cells again. As a result, the immune system can attack and kill the cancer cells and stop the cancer from growing.

How do I take pembrolizumab?

How do I take pembrolizumab?

pembrolizumab is given as an intravenous (IV) infusion at a medical office or infusion center. Your dose depends on your treatment plan.

  • Adults: The typical dose is either 200 mg given IV once every 3 weeks OR 400 mg given IV once every 6 weeks. Whether you take pembrolizumab by itself or together with other anticancer therapies depends on your cancer
  • Children (for certain cancers only): The dose is calculated based on body weight (kg). The typical dose is 2 mg/kg (up to a maximum of 200 mg) given IV once every 3 weeks
Is it safe for me to take pembrolizumab?

Is it safe for me to take pembrolizumab?

pembrolizumab is a safe and effective treatment when used for FDA licensed indications. However, like all medications, they may give you unwanted side effects. You should always discuss potential side effects with your physician to ensure the medication is suitable and right for you.

pembrolizumab Common Side Effects

pembrolizumab Common Side Effects

Common side effects of pembrolizumab:

  • Higher blood sugar
  • Anemia
  • Higher liver enzyme levels
  • Electrolyte changes in blood
  • Lower white blood cells
  • Tiredness
  • Lower appetite
  • Trouble breathing
  • Cough
  • Rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
pembrolizumab Serious Side Effects

pembrolizumab Serious Side Effects

Serious side effects are rare with pembrolizumab. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any of the following.

  • Serious immune-related side effects: rash, diarrhea, trouble breathing, chest pain, severe stomach pain, mucus or blood in stool
  • Serious reaction during infusion: chills, fever, itching, fast heartbeat, trouble breathing
Effects of other drugs, drug classes and over-the-counter products on pembrolizumab

Effects of other drugs, drug classes and over-the-counter products on pembrolizumab

There are no major drug interactions listed for pembrolizumab. However, always let your physician and pharmacist know about any other medications or supplements (including prescribed and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and dietary or herbal supplements) that you are currently taking.

Who makes pembrolizumab?

Who makes pembrolizumab?

Various FDA-approved generic manufacturers

Is pembrolizumab safe in pregnancy?

Is pembrolizumab safe in pregnancy?

Based on its mechanism of action, pembrolizumab can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Females should have a pregnancy test before starting pembrolizumab and use effective contraception during treatment and for 4 months after the last dose.


What to do if you missed your pembrolizumab dose

The FDA's medical product safety reporting program for health professionals, patients and consumers.

Learn more about reporting side effects
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Medical Disclaimer

NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information on this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.

The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.

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