Keytruda is a medication prescribed for patients with various cancers, including melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and head and neck cancers. Keytruda alters the functioning of the immune system which can lead to adverse medical conditions in various areas of the body, and in some cases, may result in death. In addition, the FDA issued a warning addressing the potential dangers of taking Keytruda as part of a combination therapy regimen. According to the notice, taking Keytruda with certain cancer medications to treat multiple myeloma can lead to death.
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What is Keytruda?
Keytruda is administered intravenously to patients. The medication enables the immune system to identify cancer cells as foreign bodies. Keytruda belongs to a class of drugs known as “immune checkpoint inhibitors” that work by impeding the growth of cancerous cells in the body. It has been approved for the treatment of a wide variety of cancers.
What is Happening with Keytruda?
Patients who take Keytruda may experience life-threatening damage as a result of their immune systems targeting healthy organs and tissues. This may cause significant harm to vital organs including the lungs, intestines, liver and kidneys, and could possibly lead to death.
The FDA issued an alert in August, 2017 to notify users that it has suspended clinical trials involving the use of Keytruda to treat multiple myeloma. Several patients who received Keytruda in combination with dexamethasone or one of two immunomodulatory agents died. The FDA concluded that there was an elevated risk of death for those patients taking Keytruda with another drug as compared to the control group. Other manufacturers of similar immunotherapy drugs have suspended their own trials following the deaths of patients in clinical trials involving Keytruda.
Keytruda Side Effects and Complications
Common side effects of Keytruda include:
- Body aches;
- Labored breathing;
- Difficulty moving;
- Pain in muscles and joints;
- Extreme weight gain or loss; and
Serious side effects of Keytruda include:
- Inflammation of the liver or pancreas;
- Kidney failure;
- Inflammation of the nerves;
- Hormonal problems; and