Find out more about KEYTRUDA and how to access it


How KEYTRUDA works

KEYTRUDA is known as immuno-oncology (or immunotherapy) because it works with the body’s immune system to help find and destroy cancer cells.

How KEYTRUDA works

KEYTRUDA helps the immune system do what it is designed to do - help to detect and fight disease. KEYTRUDA is not a chemotherapy. Chemotherapy involves the use of medicines to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells.

How KEYTRUDA works with your immune system

The immune system is the body’s natural defence against disease. It sends types of cells called T cells through the body to find and fight infections and diseases - including cancers.

Some cancer cells grow by hiding from the immune system. Immuno-oncology drugs like KEYTRUDA work with the immune system to help find and fight certain cancer cells.

Keytruda comparison

The immune system finds and fights cancer cells as they grow, before they form tumours.

Keytruda comparison

The immune system destroys some cancer cells, but other cancer cells may hide from the immune system. These hiding cancer cells can then grow into tumours.

Keytruda comparison

KEYTRUDA helps the immune system find and treat cancer cells.

More about KEYTRUDA

How to access KEYTRUDA

Immuno-oncology and cancer


KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) 50mg powder for infusion
KEYTRUDA is a Prescription Only Medicine Use: KEYTRUDA is used in the treatment of melanoma which cannot be removed by surgery alone or when it has spread to multiple sites in the body. In the treatment of a kind of lung cancer called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In the treatment of classical Hodgkin Lymphoma (cHL). In the treatment of urothelial carcinoma, including bladder cancer. Side effects: Immune-mediated side effects including inflammation of the lungs, colon, liver, kidneys, pituitary gland, brain, eye, muscles, nervous system, pancreas, and heart, thyroid disorders, type 1 diabetes mellitus. Severe skin reactions including Steven-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis. Severe infusion reactions including hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis. Transplant recipients: rejection of a transplanted organ, graft-versus- host-disease (in people with a bone marrow transplant using donor cells). Very common side effects include diarrhea, nausea, itching, rash, joint pain, back pain, feeling tired, cough, patches of discoloured skin, stomach pain, decreased levels of sodium in blood. Tiredness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, shortness of breath, rash, itching, headache, hair loss, and, infections of the upper respiratory tract were reported when given in combination with chemotherapy. You may experience more than one side effect at the same time. All medicines have risks and benefits. Talk to your doctor to see if KEYTRUDA is right for you. KEYTRUDA is a funded medicine for melanoma patients– restrictions apply. KEYTRUDA is an unfunded medicine for NSCLC, cHL and urothelial carcinoma patients. Ask your health professional the cost of the medicine and any other medical fees that may apply. Use only as directed and if symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist, or health professional. Based on data sheet prepared 10 April 2018. Marketed by: Merck Sharp & Dohme (New Zealand) Limited, Newmarket, Auckland. For additional product information, consult the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI), available on request, phone 0800 500 673 or refer to the Medsafe website www.medsafe.govt.nz.

This site is intended for New Zealand residents.

References to support this are available on request.

MSD recommends people always seek the medical advice of their healthcare professional.

Copyright © 2018 Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, New Jersey, USA. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2018 Merck Sharp & Dohme (New Zealand) Limited. Level 3, 123 Carlton Gore Road, Newmarket, Auckland. All rights reserved.

ONCO-1250168-0032 First Issued November 2017 TAPS NA10076 essence MSD8360

Updated: May 2018