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Pronunciation: “key-TRUE-duh” (“pem-bro-LIZ-zoo-mab”)

Disclaimer: This patient information sheet summarizes the information about pembrolizumab as prescribed for treatment of advanced kidney cancer and is not meant to substitute for medical advice. If you would like more information, talk with your healthcare team. Every patient is different, and only you and your doctor can decide the best treatment plan for you. Please see our guide on talking to your doctor about treatments for kidney cancer.

Merck & Co.

Patient Assistance Programs (PAP) are financial programs to help cover costs of medical tests and treatments. They are usually offered by drug manufacturers but can also be through individual hospitals, local governments, and private organizations, and each PAP will have different benefits and enrollment requirements and forms. Don’t let the paperwork stop you from getting the help you need and contact the KCA if you need help understanding your options.Patient Assistance Program
Merck Access Program

What type of drug is it?: Immunotherapies are drug treatments that help boost your own immune system to better find and destroy cancer cells, removing them from the body entirely.  Immunotherapy (also called IO or ICI) can be given by itself or in combination with other IO or targeted (TKI) therapies. Immunotherapy.

How is it prescribed?: Pembrolizumab is approved to be used alone (as a single agent) or in combination with axitinib (Inlyta) or lenvatinib (Lenvima).

How is it administered?:  This medication is given intravenously, also referred to an IV (meaning directly into a vein).

How often do I take it?: Pembrolizumab is given once every 3-6 weeks.

If you miss a dose, please call your healthcare provider for guidance on how to proceed.

When taking in combination with another drug, please see the separate sheet on axitinib or lenvatinib for its dosing information.

Storage: This will be handled by the infusion clinic.

Restrictions: None.  Please see our guide on what to ask and tell your doctor before starting any medication.

Side Effects: There can be a range of side effects for any medication. Letting your doctor know about these side effects does not mean you have to stop treatment – but may mean that your treatment needs to be adjusted. Therefore, it is important to let your doctor know if you are experiencing side effects so they can manage your medications appropriately. Please see our educational sheet on side effects for more information on what to watch out for and how to talk with your doctor should you experience any of them.   

Revised May 2022
Adapted from the package insert. Merck, March 2022