Pembrolizumab (Keytruda)

This drug is an immune checkpoint inhibitor that targets PD-1, a protein on immune system cells (called T cells), that normally helps keep these cells from attacking other cells in the body. By blocking PD-1, this drug boosts the immune response against melanoma cells. This can often shrink tumours and help people live longer. These drugs are given as an intravenous (IV) infusion every 3 weeks.

Side Effects

The most common side effects from this drug include fatigue, diarrhea, skin rash, and itching. Serious side effects seem to happen more often with this drug than with the PD-1 inhibitors. Like the PD-1 inhibitors, this drug can cause the immune system to attack other parts of the body, which can lead to serious problems in the intestines, liver, hormone-making glands, nerves, skin, eyes, or other organs. In some people these side effects have been fatal.

It’s very important to report any new side effects during or after treatment to your health care team promptly.


Watch Now – Video on the side effects of Immunotherapies

Provincial Funding Summary

View Summary PDF

Ipilimumab (Yervoy) for Advanced Melanoma
This information is current as of August 4, 2016

Note: Funding criteria as listed on the decision date. Please refer to the provincial drug programs for the most recent funding criteria and program eligibility

View the Provincial Funding Summary through CADTH Pan-Canadaina Oncology Drug Review CLICK HERE

Please note: This information is not meant to act as a treatment decision aid, but rather to provide general information about which metastatic melanoma or skin cancer treatments are covered by provincial health care plans in Canada. It is current to the date indicated and may not be currently accurate due to the changing landscape of coverage in Canada. If you have private insurance coverage, you may have access to therapies not covered by the provincial plans in your province.  All information obtained about specific treatments should be further discussed with your physician.

Melanoma What You Need To Know

A leading national melanoma resource written with the help of specialists in oncology and health care.

Watch Now Melanoma Updates and Treatments

Melanoma Support

The Melanoma Network of Canada has a number of free services for patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.