Merck & Co. got U.S. approval to introduce a new line of cancer-fighting treatments by using patients own immune systems against the disease. Keytruda is indicated for patients with advanced stage melanoma. Melanoma accounts for 2 % of skin cancer cases and causes the majority of deaths from the disease.
Patients who are suffering from melanoma that cannot be removed with surgery, has extend to other areas of the body (metastasized), has not respond to the treatment of ipilmumab (another treatment for melanoma), can use Keytruda. Keytruda is a human (humanized) antibody that works on a specific pathway of the immune response thought to be involved in the development and spread of melanoma.
Keytruda is a monoclonal antibody that blocks the programmed human death receptor PD-1. Monoclonal antibodies are now approved and used for treatment of various diseases including cancer, Crohn’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and organ transplant patients. Antibodies are effective in treatment of these diseases because they attach to and annihilate or neutralize specific pathogens or proteins involved in inflammatory processes.
Keytruda selectively attach to the PD-1 receptor and blocks PD-1 and PD-2 molecules from binding to the receptor. By blocking PD-1 and PD-2, Keytruda allows the tumor fighting chemicals and cells of the immune system to attack the melanoma tumor.
Keytruda (Pembrolizumab) Side effects, Dosage and Cost
The Food and Drug Administration cleared Keytruda, chemically identified as pembrolizumab, for the treatment of advanced melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer but it also shows side effects during trial. Side effects, dosage and cost of the Keytruda (Pembrolizumab) are:
Keytruda (Pembrolizumab) Side effects
Pembrolizumab attack the cancer cells and activates the immune system. Active immune system on the other hand, can also attack healthy tissues and organs. These reactions can cause severe problems and can be critical in exceptional cases. There are a number of things you can do to manage the side effects of pembrolizumab.
Numerous side effects have been noted during keytruda study. Keytruda (Pembrolizumab) affects mostly the bowels, liver, skin, nerves and the endocrine system. This immune reaction can take place during treatment but can also be seen weeks or months after the treatment termination.
The common side effects in patients taking pembrolizumab are: Anemia, Fatigue, Hyperglycemia, Hyponatremia, Hypoalbuminemia, Itching, Cough and Nausea.
Less common side effects of patients receiving pembrolizumab are Rashes, Decreased appetite, Hypertriglyceridemia, Increased liver enzymes, Hypocalcaemia, Constipation, Diarrhea, Shortness of breath, Swelling, Arthralgia, Pain in extremity, Headache, Vomiting, Chills, Abdominal tenderness, Backache, Myalgia, Insomnia, Fever, Vitiligo, Dizziness and Upper respiratory tract infection.
Keytruda Dosage in Adults
Keytruda is offered as a single-use vial having 50 mg of the medication for reconstitution. The vials that are not used can be stored under refrigeration. The suggested dosage of Keytruda is an intravenous 2 mg/kg of infusion given over 30 minutes every 3 weeks. Keytruda treatment is recommended until the cancer progresses or a patient reaches unacceptable toxicity.
Keytruda is combined with 2.3 mL of Sterile Water for inoculation to produce an ultimate concentration of 25 mg/mL for each one vial. The reconstituted vial of Keytruda is stable for four hours at room temperature and for 24 hours in a refrigerator. Reconstituted Keytruda should never be placed in a freezer. The preferred volume of reconstituted Keytruda for a specific patient’s dose should be added to a 0.9% sodium chloride bag.
Keytruda Cost/Price for Cancer Treatment
Immunotherapy is showing great signs of improving the life expectancy of several patients by destroying the cancerous cells by means of the body immune system. But like other cancer treatment drugs the high price is a dilemma. Keytruda is the most recent in a series of breakthrough cancer therapies that push the overall market for oncology drugs.
The available cost of 50 mg vial of Keytruda is $150,000 for a full course of treatment and $12,500 a month in the US. Even if patients meet the requirements for Medicare, he or she could be charged $30,000 in co-payments for a few months more life. The manufacturer of Keytruda, Merck, are making policies to help patients pay for the cost of this medication.