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Yervoy

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Generic Name: Ipilimumab
Product Name: Yervoy

Indication

Yervoy is used to treat adults with advanced melanoma after they have tried other melanoma treatment.

Action

The active ingredient in Yervoy is called ipilimumab. It helps your immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells.

Dose advice

Dose information

How to take Yervoy

Yervoy will be given to you under the supervision of an experienced doctor in hospital. Yervoy is administered by intravenous infusion. A drip will be placed in your arm for 90 minutes while the medicine is infused.

Feel tired or weak is a very common side effect of Yervoy. This can affect your ability to drive or operate any machinery. Do not drive or operate and affect your ability to drive. Do not drive or use machines after you have been given Yervoy unless you are sure you are not affected.

Dose

Your doctor will calculate the correct dose, based on your body weight. The correct dose is 3mg of ipilimumab per kilogram of body weight. You will be treated with Yervoy once every 3 weeks for a total of 4 doses depending on your response to treatment. Your doctor may prescribe further doses of Yervoy and will discuss this with you depending on your response.

It is important to attend all appointments to receive Yervoy treatment at the time scheduled by your doctor. If you miss an appointment, contact your doctor immediately to find out when you should receive your next Yervoy treatment.

Stopping your treatment may stop the effect of the medicine. Do not stop treatment with Yervoy unless you have discussed this with your doctor.

If you have any questions about Yervoy, ask your doctor.

Contraindications


Tell your doctor if you are allergic to ipilimumab. If you are not sure, talk to your doctor.

Precautions

Yervoy affects the immune system and may cause inflammation in parts of the body. Inflammation can cause serious damage to your body and some inflammatory conditions may be life-threatening. Tell your doctor immediately if you develop:

  • Signs of allergic reactions, including shortness of breath, wheezing or difficulty breathing, inflammation of the face or other parts of the body and skin rash, itching or hives on the skin; or
  • Signs of inflammation of the:
    • Stomach or bowel including diarrhoea, an increased number of bowel movements, constipation, blood in your stools or darker coloured stools, pain or tenderness in your stomach area.
    • Liver including jaundice (yellowing skin or whites of the eyes), stomach pain, excessive sleepiness.
    • Skin including rash, itching, peeling skin or dry skin.
    • Nerve damage including muscle weakness or decreased strength, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, loss of consciousness or difficulty waking up.
    • Hormone-producing glands including blurry or double-vision, decreased sex drive, behavioural changes, headaches and fatigue.
    • Eye including redness, pain and vision changes.

Special care needs to be taken before you start using Yervoy. Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are on a low-salt (sodium) diet. Yervoy is high in salt.
  • Use corticosteroids, medicines which suppress the immune system.
  • If you have an autoimmune condition like colitis, which cause the body to attack its own cells.
  • If you have ever experienced chronic liver infection, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
  • If you have HIV or AIDS.
  • If you take medicines called anticoagulants to thin your blood.

Other medications

Before you start using Yervoy, tell your doctor about any other medicines you take or have taken recently, including herbal remedies and medicines you purchased over the counter without a prescription. Get advice from your doctor before you start taking any new medicines. Tell any other doctors, dentists and pharmacists who are treating you or prescribing you other medications that you are taking Yervoy.

Pregnancy

You should not use Yervoy if you are pregnant, unless your doctor specifically recommends it. It is not know whether Yervoy could harm the foetus if taken during pregnancy. If you are a woman of child bearing age you must use effective contraception while taking Yervoy and inform your doctor immediately if you become pregnant.

Breastfeeding

You should stop breastfeeding if you are using Yervoy. It is not known whether Yervoy passes into breast milk.

Children

Yervoy should not be taken by children under 18 years of age.

Storage

You should not need to store Yervoy. It will be stored at the hospital or clinic where you are being treated.

Schedule

Yervoy is a Schedule S4 (prescription only) medication.

Side effects

All medicines can have side effects. Most commonly the side effects are minor; however, some can be more serious. Usually the benefits of taking a medication outweigh the associated side effects. Your doctor would have considered these side effects before starting you on Yervoy.

Yervoy affects the immune system and may cause inflammation. Inform your doctor immediately if you develop signs of inflammation.

Yervoy may also cause changes test results of:

  • Red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets;
  • Hormones and liver enzyme levels in the blood;
  • Low blood level of sodium, phosphate or potassium;
  • Increased level or rheumatoid factor;
  • Kidneys unable to remove acids from blood;
  • High alkalinity of blood or other tissues.

Very common side effects

Very common side effects are those that occur in more than 10% of people given Yervoy.
These include:

  • Loss of appetite;
  • Diarrhoea;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Stomach pain;
  • Itching or skin rash;
  • Feeling tired or weak;
  • Cough;
  • Headache;
  • Fever;
  • Insomnia.

Common side effects

Common side effects are those that occur in 1–10% of people given Yervoy. These include:

  • Sepsis (blood infection);
  • Tumour pain;
  • Weight gain or tiredness associated with suppression of the hormone producing glands;
  • Rapid heart rate, sweating and weight loss associated with over-activity of the thyroid gland;
  • Dehydration;
  • Eye inflammation (pain, redness, blurred vision);
  • Low blood pressure;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Bleeding in the stomach, intestine (gut), bowel, constipation;
  • Weight loss;
  • Abnormal liver function;
  • Skin inflammation with redness, patchy colour changes;
  • Hair loss or thinning;
  • Excessive sweating at night;
  • Muscle and joints pain;
  • Kidney failure;
  • Fever, shivering, lack of energy;
  • Swelling, pain, or other reaction at site of injection.

Uncommon side effects

Side effects that occur in less than 1% of people given Yervoy are considered uncommon:

  • Septic shock from blood infection;
  • Urinary tract infection associated with kidney disease;
  • Inflammation of the stomach and intestines;
  • Depression, lowered sex drive, confusion;
  • Inflammation of blood vessels in the skin, hives (itchy, bumpy rash);
  • Muscle spasms, painful joints;
  • Change or absence of menstrual periods;
  • Eye pain, reduced vision, bleeding in the eye, feeling like there is something in the eye;
  • Abnormal heartbeat;
  • Extreme difficulty breathing, fluid in the lungs, hay fever;
  • Disease of blood vessels which may cause low blood pressure, feelings of intense heat with sweating and rapid heartbeat;
  • Nerve damage causing pain, weakness and cramps, dizziness, brief involuntary muscle contractions, shaking, excessive accumulation of water in the brain, disease of nerves in the head, speech difficulty, and difficulty coordinating movement;
  • Gastrointestinal inflammation, bowel perforation and heartburn;
  • Metabolic complications;
  • Liver failure or inflammation causing yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice);
  • Multi organ failure;
  • Reduced red blood cell count.

Rare side effects

Rare side effects are those that occur in 0.01–0.1% of people given Yervoy. These include:

  • Upper respiratory tract infection;
  • Brain or spinal cord infection;
  • Allergic reaction;
  • Decreased function of the adrenal glands, defect in glands producing sex hormones;
  • Inflammatory reactions that damage to the thyroid gland;
  • Inflammation of the kidney or brain;
  • Mental health changes;
  • Inflammation of the nerves causing pain, weakness or paralysis in the extremities, drowsiness or lack of energy;
  • Meningism – a condition causing neck stiffness, intolerance of bright light and headache;
  • Inflammation of the eye and/or iris with swollen runny eyes;
  • Inflammation or disease of the heart, irregular heartbeat;
  • Blood circulation problems caused by inflammatory damage to blood vessels, poor circulation which makes toes and fingers numb or pale;
  • Breathing failure caused by fluid in the lungs;
  • Inflammatory disease of the intestines (causing abdominal pain, diarrhoea which may be bloody, vomiting or weight loss);
  • Peeling skin;
  • Muscle inflammation, pain or stiffness especially in hip and shoulder;
  • Hearing disorder.

If you experience any of the listed side effects, or any other symptoms that appear abnormal or unusual, tell your doctor. Do not try to treat side effects by using other medicines.

Useful resources

Melanoma Patients AustraliaVisit mpa – Melanoma Patients Australia. The aim of the website is to provide melanoma patients, their family & friends with information about melanoma & its treatment options, providing a national network of support to nurture them through difficult times and a national voice to raise awareness about melanoma.

 

Related Documents

pdf download CMI

 

 

References

  1. Consumer Medical Information. Yervoy. Musgrave, VIC: Bristol-Myers Squibb Australia Pty Ltd; 13 March 2013.

 

Diseases treated by this drug:

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Dates

Posted On: 21 October, 2014
Modified On: 7 July, 2017

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