Safety Data

Safety Data¹

Pembrolizumab is most commonly associated with immune-mediated adverse reactions. Most of these, including severe reactions, resolved following initiation of appropriate medical therapy or withdrawal of pembrolizumab (see “Description of selected adverse reactions” below). The frequencies included below and in Table 2 are based on all reported adverse drug reactions, regardless of the investigator assessment of causality.

The safety of pembrolizumab as monotherapy has been evaluated in 7,631 patients across tumour types and across four doses (2 mg/kg bw every 3 weeks, 200 mg every 3 weeks, or 10 mg/kg bw every 2 or 3 weeks) in clinical studies. In this patient population, the median observation time was 8.5 months (range: 1 day to 39 months) and the most frequent adverse reactions with pembrolizumab were fatigue (31%), diarrhoea (22%), and nausea (20%). The majority of adverse reactions reported for monotherapy were of Grades 1 or 2 severity. The most serious adverse reactions were immune-mediated adverse reactions and severe infusion-related reactions. The incidences of immune-mediated adverse reactions were 37% all Grades and 9% for Grades 3-5 for pembrolizumab monotherapy in the adjuvant setting and 25% all Grades and 6% for Grades 3-5 in the metastatic setting. No new immune-mediated adverse reactions were identified in the adjuvant setting.

When pembrolizumab is administered in combination, refer to the SmPC for the respective combination therapy components prior to initiation of treatment.

The safety of pembrolizumab in combination with chemotherapy has been evaluated in 3,473 patients across tumour types receiving 200 mg, 2 mg/kg bw or 10 mg/kg bw pembrolizumab every 3 weeks, in clinical studies. In this patient population, the most frequent adverse reactions were anaemia (54%), nausea (54%), fatigue (37%), diarrhoea (36%), neutropenia (34%), constipation (34%), alopecia (32%), vomiting (29%), and decreased appetite (28%). Incidences of Grades 3-5 adverse reactions in patients with NSCLC were 67% for pembrolizumab combination therapy and 66% for chemotherapy alone, in patients with HNSCC were 85% for pembrolizumab combination therapy and 84% for chemotherapy plus cetuximab, in patients with oesophageal carcinoma were 86% for pembrolizumab combination therapy and 83% for chemotherapy alone, in patients with TNBC were 80% for pembrolizumab combination therapy and 77% for chemotherapy alone, in patients with cervical cancer were 82% for pembrolizumab combination and 75% for chemotherapy, with or without bevacizumab, and in patients with gastric cancer were 71% for pembrolizumab combination therapy (chemotherapy plus trastuzumab) and 65% for chemotherapy plus trastuzumab.

When pembrolizumab is administered in combination with axitinib or lenvatinib, refer to the SmPC for axitinib or lenvatinib prior to initiation of treatment. For additional lenvatinib safety information related to advanced RCC see the SmPC for Kisplyx and for advanced EC see the SmPC for Lenvima.

The safety of pembrolizumab in combination with axitinib or lenvatinib in advanced RCC, and in combination with lenvatinib in advanced EC has been evaluated in a total of 1,456 patients with advanced RCC or advanced EC receiving 200 mg pembrolizumab every 3 weeks with either axitinib 5 mg twice daily or lenvatinib 20 mg once daily in clinical studies, as appropriate. In these patient populations, the most frequent adverse reactions were diarrhoea (58%), hypertension (54%), hypothyroidism (46%), fatigue (41%), decreased appetite (40%), nausea (40%), arthralgia (30%), vomiting (28%), weight decreased (28%), dysphonia (28%), abdominal pain (28%), proteinuria (27%), palmar-plantar erythrodysaesthesia syndrome (26%), rash (26%), stomatitis (25%), constipation (25%), musculoskeletal pain (23%), headache (23%) and cough (21%). Grades 3-5 adverse reactions in patients with RCC were 80% for pembrolizumab in combination with either axitinib or lenvatinib and 71% for sunitinib alone. In patients with EC, Grades 3-5 adverse reactions were 89% for pembrolizumab in combination with lenvatinib and 73% for chemotherapy alone.

Tabulated summary of adverse reactions

Adverse reactions observed in clinical studies of pembrolizumab as monotherapy or in combination with chemotherapy or other anti-tumour medicines or reported from post-marketing use of pembrolizumab are listed in Table 2. These reactions are presented by system organ class and by frequency. Frequencies are defined as: very common (≥ 1/10); common (≥ 1/100 to < 1/10); uncommon (≥ 1/1,000 to < 1/100); rare (≥ 1/10,000 to < 1/1,000); very rare (< 1/10,000); and not known (cannot be estimated from the available data). Within each frequency grouping, adverse reactions are presented in the order of decreasing seriousness. Adverse reactions known to occur with pembrolizumab or combination therapy components given alone may occur during treatment with these medicinal products in combination, even if these reactions were not reported in clinical studies with combination therapy.

For additional safety information when pembrolizumab is administered in combination, refer to the SmPC for the respective combination therapy components.

Adverse reactions in patients treated with pembrolizumab**

 MonotherapyIn combination with
chemotherapy
In combination with
axitinib or lenvatinib
Infections and infestations  
Very common  urinary tract infection
Commonpneumonia pneumoniapneumonia
Blood and lymphatic system disorders  
Very commonanaemianeutropenia, anaemia,
thrombocytopenia,
leukopenia
 anaemia
Commonthrombocytopenia, neutropenia, lymphopeniafebrile neutropenia, lymphopenianeutropenia,
thrombocytopenia,
lymphopenia,
leukopenia
Uncommonleukopenia, immune thrombocytopenia, eosinophiliaeosinophiliaeosinophilia
Rarehaemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, haemolytic anaemia, pure red cell aplasiahaemolytic anaemia, immune thrombocytopenia 
Immune system disorders  
Commoninfusionrelated reaction*infusionrelated reaction*infusionrelated reaction*
Uncommonsarcoidosis*  
Raresarcoidosis
Not knownsolid organ transplant rejection  
Endocrine disorders  
Very commonhypothyroidism*hypothyroidism*hypothyroidism*
Commonhyperthyroidismadrenal insufficiency*, thyroiditis*, hyperthyroidism*adrenal insufficiency*, hyperthyroidism, thyroiditis*
Uncommonadrenal insufficiency*, hypophysitis*, thyroiditis*hypophysitis*hypophysitis*
Rarehypoparathyroidismhypoparathyroidismhypoparathyroidism
Metabolism and nutrition disorders  
Very commondecreased appetitehypokalaemia, decreased appetitedecreased appetite
Commonhyponatraemia, hypokalaemia, hypocalcaemiahyponatraemia, hypocalcaemiahypokalaemia, hyponatraemia, hypocalcaemia
Uncommontype 1 diabetes mellitus*type 1 diabetes mellitus*type 1 diabetes mellitus*
Psychiatric disorders  
Very common insomnia 
Commoninsomnia insomnia
Nervous system disorders  
Very commonheadacheneuropathy peripheral, headache, dizzinessheadache, dysgeusia
Commondizziness, neuropathy peripheral, lethargy, dysgeusialethargy, dysgeusiadizziness, neuropathy peripheral, lethargy
Uncommonmyasthenic syndrome*, epilepsyencephalitis*, epilepsymyasthenic syndrome*, encephalitis*
RareGuillain-Barré syndrome*, encephalitis*, myelitis*, optic neuritis, meningitis (aseptic)*Guillain-Barré syndrome*, myasthenic syndrome optic neuritis
Eye disorders  
Commondry eyedry eyedry eye
Uncommonuveitis* uveitis*uveitis*
RareVogt‑Koyanagi‑Harada syndrome  Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome
Cardiac disorders  
Commoncardiac arrhythmia (including atrial fibrillation)cardiac arrhythmia (including atrial fibrillation)cardiac arrhythmia (including atrial fibrillation)
Uncommonmyocarditis, pericardial effusion, pericarditismyocarditis*, pericardial effusion, pericarditismyocarditis, pericardial effusion
Rare  
Vascular disorders  
Very common  hypertension
Commonhypertensionhypertension 
Uncommonvasculitis*vasculitis*
Rarevasculitis*  
Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders  
Very commondyspnoea, coughdyspnoea, coughdyspnoea, cough
Commonpneumonitis*pneumonitis*pneumonitis*
Gastrointestinal disorders  
Very commondiarrhoea, abdominal pain*, nausea, vomiting, constipationnausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain*, constipationdiarrhoea, abdominal pain*, nausea, vomiting, constipation
Commoncolitis*, dry mouthcolitis*, gastritis, dry mouthcolitis*, pancreatitis*,
gastritis, dry mouth
Uncommonpancreatitis*, gastritis, gastrointestinal ulceration*pancreatitis*, gastrointestinal ulceration*gastrointestinal ulceration*
Raresmall intestinal perforation small intestinal perforation small intestinal perforation
Hepatobiliary disorders  
Common hepatitis*hepatitis*hepatitis*
Rarecholangitis sclerosingcholangitis sclerosing* 
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders  
Very commonpruritus*, rash*alopecia, rash*, pruritus*rash*, pruritus*
Commonsevere skin reactions*, erythema, dermatitis, dry skin, vitiligo*, eczema, alopecia, dermatitis acneiformsevere skin reactions*, erythema, dry skin, dermatitis acneiform, dermatitis, eczemasevere skin reactions*, dermatitis, dry skin, erythema, dermatitis acneiform, alopecia
Uncommonpsoriasis, lichenoid keratosis*, papule, hair colour changespsoriasis, lichenoid keratosis*, vitiligo*, papuleeczema, lichenoid keratosis*, psoriasis, vitiligo*, papule, hair colour changes
RareStevens-Johnson syndrome, erythema nodosum, toxic epidermal necrolysisStevens-Johnson syndrome, erythema nodosum, hair colour changestoxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders  
Very commonmusculoskeletal pain*, arthralgiaarthralgia, musculoskeletal pain*, myositis*arthralgia, musculoskeletal pain*, myositis*, pain in extremity
Commonmyositis*, pain in extremity, arthritis*pain in extremity, arthritis*arthritis*
Uncommontenosynovitis*tenosynovitis*tenosynovitis*
RareSjogren’s syndromeSjogren’s syndrome Sjogren’s syndrome
Renal and urinary disorders  
Common acute kidney injurynephritis*
Uncommonnephritis*nephritis*, cystitis noninfective 
Rarecystitis noninfectivecystitis noninfective
General disorders and administration site conditions  
Very commonfatigue, asthenia, oedema*, pyrexiafatigue, asthenia, pyrexiafatigue, asthenia, oedema*, pyrexia
Commoninfluenza‑like illness, chillsoedema*, influenza‑like illness, chillsinfluenza‑like illness, chills
Investigations  
Very common alanine aminotransferase increased, aspartate aminotransferase increasedlipase increased, alanine aminotransferase increased, aspartate aminotransferase increased, blood creatinine increased
Commonalanine aminotransferase increased, aspartate aminotransferase increased, blood alkaline phosphatase increased, hypercalcaemia, blood bilirubin increased, blood creatinine increasedblood creatinine increased, blood alkaline phosphatase increased, blood bilirubin increased, hypercalcaemiaamylase increased, blood bilirubin increased, blood alkaline phosphatase increased, hypercalcaemia
Uncommonamylase increasedamylase increased

**Adverse reaction frequencies presented in Table may not be fully attributable to pembrolizumab alone but may contain contributions from the underlying disease or from other medicinal products used in a combination.
†Based upon a standard query including bradyarrhythmias and tachyarrhythmias.

*The following terms represent a group of related events that describe a medical condition rather than a single event:

  • infusion-related reaction (drug hypersensitivity, anaphylactic reaction, anaphylactoid reaction, hypersensitivity, infusion-related hypersensitivity reaction, cytokine release syndrome and serum sickness)
  • sarcoidosis (cutaneous sarcoidosis and pulmonary sarcoidosis)
  • hypothyroidism (myxoedema, immune-mediated hypothyroidism and autoimmune hypothyroidism)
  • adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease, adrenocortical insufficiency acute and secondary adrenocortical insufficiency)
  • thyroiditis (autoimmune thyroiditis, thyroid disorder, thyroiditis acute and immune-mediated thyroiditis)
  • hyperthyroidism (Basedow’s disease)
  • hypophysitis (hypopituitarism and lymphocytic hypophysitis)
  • type 1 diabetes mellitus (diabetic ketoacidosis)
  • myasthenic syndrome (myasthenia gravis, including exacerbation)
  • encephalitis (autoimmune encephalitis and noninfective encephalitis)
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (axonal neuropathy and demyelinating polyneuropathy)
  • myelitis (including transverse myelitis)
  • meningitis aseptic (meningitis and meningitis noninfective)
  • uveitis (chorioretinitis, iritis and iridocyclitis)
  • myocarditis (autoimmune myocarditis)
  • vasculitis (central nervous system vasculitis, aortitis and giant cell arteritis)
  • pneumonitis (interstitial lung disease, organising pneumonia, immune-mediated pneumonitis, immune-mediated lung disease and autoimmune lung disease)
  • abdominal pain (abdominal discomfort, abdominal pain upper and abdominal pain lower)
  • colitis (colitis microscopic, enterocolitis, enterocolitis haemorrhagic, autoimmune colitis and immune-mediated enterocolitis)
  • pancreatitis (autoimmune pancreatitis, pancreatitis acute and immune-mediated pancreatitis)
  • gastrointestinal ulceration (gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer)
  • hepatitis (autoimmune hepatitis, immune-mediated hepatitis, drug induced liver injury and acute hepatitis)
  • cholangitis sclerosing (immune-mediated cholangitis)
  • pruritus (urticaria, urticaria papular and pruritus genital)
  • rash (rash erythematous, rash follicular, rash macular, rash maculo-papular, rash papular, rash pruritic, rash vesicular and genital rash)
  • severe skin reactions (exfoliative rash, pemphigus, and Grade ≥ 3 of the following: dermatitis bullous, dermatitis exfoliative, dermatitis exfoliative generalised, erythema multiforme, lichen planus, oral lichen planus, pemphigoid, pruritus, pruritus genital, rash, rash erythematous, rash maculo-papular, rash pruritic, rash pustular, skin necrosis and toxic skin eruption)
  • vitiligo (skin depigmentation, skin hypopigmentation and hypopigmentation of the eyelid)
  • lichenoid keratosis (lichen planus and lichen sclerosus)
  • musculoskeletal pain (musculoskeletal discomfort, back pain, musculoskeletal stiffness, musculoskeletal chest pain and torticollis)
  • myositis (myalgia, myopathy, necrotising myositis, polymyalgia rheumatica and rhabdomyolysis)
  • arthritis (joint swelling, polyarthritis, joint effusion, autoimmune arthritis and immune-mediated arthritis)
  • tenosynovitis (tendonitis, synovitis and tendon pain)
  • nephritis (autoimmune nephritis, tubulointerstitial nephritis and renal failure, renal failure acute, or acute kidney
  • injury with evidence of nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, glomerulonephritis, glomerulonephritis membranous and
  • glomerulonephritis acute)
  • oedema (oedema peripheral, generalised oedema, fluid overload, fluid retention, eyelid oedema and lip oedema, face oedema, localised oedema and periorbital oedema)
  • Description of selected adverse reactions

    Data for the following immune-mediated adverse reactions are based on patients who received pembrolizumab across four doses (2 mg/kg bw every 3 weeks, 10 mg/kg bw every 2 or 3 weeks, or 200 mg every 3 weeks) in clinical studies

    Immune related adverse reactions

    Immune-mediated pneumonitis

    Pneumonitis occurred in 324 (4.2%) patients, including Grade 2, 3, 4 or 5 cases in 143 (1.9%), 81 (1.1%), 19 (0.2%) and 9 (0.1%) patients, respectively, receiving pembrolizumab. The median time to onset of pneumonitis was 3.9 months (range 2 days to 27.2 months). The median duration was 2.0 months (range 1 day to 51.0+ months). Pneumonitis occurred more frequently in patients with a history of prior thoracic radiation (8.1%) than in patients who did not receive prior thoracic radiation (3.9%). Pneumonitis led to discontinuation of pembrolizumab in 131 (1.7%) patients. Pneumonitis resolved in 196 patients, 6 with sequelae.

    In patients with NSCLC, pneumonitis occurred in 206 (6.1%), including Grade 2, 3, 4 or 5 cases in 92 (2.7%), 56 (1.7%), 16 (0.5%) and 9 (0.3%), respectively. In patients with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC, pneumonitis occurred in 8.9% with a history of prior thoracic radiation. In patients with cHL, the incidence of pneumonitis (all Grades) ranged from 5.2% to 10.8% for cHL patients in KEYNOTE-087 (n=210) and KEYNOTE-204 (n=148), respectively.

    Immune-mediated colitis

    Colitis occurred in 158 (2.1%) patients, including Grade 2, 3 or 4 cases in 49 (0.6%), 82 (1.1%) and 6 (0.1%) patients, respectively, receiving pembrolizumab. The median time to onset of colitis was 4.3 months (range 2 days to 24.3 months). The median duration was 1.1 month (range 1 day to 45.2 months). Colitis led to discontinuation of pembrolizumab in 48 (0.6%) patients. Colitis resolved in 132 patients, 2 with sequelae. In patients with CRC treated with pembrolizumab as monotherapy (n=153), the incidence of colitis was 6.5% (all Grades) with 2.0% Grade 3 and 1.3% Grade 4.

    Immune-mediated hepatitis

    Hepatitis occurred in 80 (1.0%) patients, including Grade 2, 3 or 4 cases in 12 (0.2%), 55 (0.7%) and 8 (0.1%) patients, respectively, receiving pembrolizumab. The median time to onset of hepatitis was 3.5 months (range 8 days to 26.3 months). The median duration was 1.3 months (range 1 day to 29.0+ months). Hepatitis led to discontinuation of pembrolizumab in 37 (0.5%) patients. Hepatitis resolved in 60 patients.

    Immune-mediated nephritis

    Nephritis occurred in 37 (0.5%) patients, including Grade 2, 3 or 4 cases in 11 (0.1%), 19 (0.2%) and 2 (< 0.1%) patients, respectively, receiving pembrolizumab as monotherapy. The median time to onset of nephritis was 4.2 months (range 12 days to 21.4 months). The median duration was 3.3 months (range 6 days to 28.2+ months). Nephritis led to discontinuation of pembrolizumab in 17 (0.2%) patients. Nephritis resolved in 25 patients, 5 with sequelae. In patients with non-squamous NSCLC treated with pembrolizumab in combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy (n=488), the incidence of nephritis was 1.4% (all Grades) with 0.8% Grade 3 and 0.4% Grade 4.

    Immune-mediated endocrinopathies

    Adrenal insufficiency occurred in 74 (1.0%) patients, including Grade 2, 3 or 4 cases in 34 (0.4%), 31 (0.4%) and 4 (0.1%) patients, respectively, receiving pembrolizumab. The median time to onset of adrenal insufficiency was 5.4 months (range 1 day to 23.7 months). The median duration was not reached (range 3 days to 40.1+ months). Adrenal insufficiency led to discontinuation of pembrolizumab in 13 (0.2%) patients. Adrenal insufficiency resolved in 28 patients, 11 with sequelae.

    Hypophysitis occurred in 52 (0.7%) patients, including Grade 2, 3 or 4 cases in 23 (0.3%), 24 (0.3%) and 1 (< 0.1%) patients, respectively, receiving pembrolizumab. The median time to onset of hypophysitis was 5.9 months (range 1 day to 17.7 months). The median duration was 3.6 months 20 (range 3 days to 48.1+ months). Hypophysitis led to discontinuation of pembrolizumab in 14 (0.2%) patients. Hypophysitis resolved in 23 patients, 8 with sequelae.

    Hyperthyroidism occurred in 394 (5.2%) patients, including Grade 2 or 3 cases in 108 (1.4%) and 9 (0.1%) patients, respectively, receiving pembrolizumab. The median time to onset of hyperthyroidism was 1.4 months (range 1 day to 23.2 months). The median duration was 1.6 months (range 4 days to 43.1+ months). Hyperthyroidism led to discontinuation of pembrolizumab in 4 (0.1%) patients. Hyperthyroidism resolved in 326 (82.7%) patients, 11 with sequelae. In patients with melanoma, NSCLC and RCC treated with pembrolizumab monotherapy in the adjuvant setting (n=2,060), the incidence of hyperthyroidism was 11.0%, the majority of which were Grade 1 or 2.

    Hypothyroidism occurred in 939 (12.3%) patients, including Grade 2 or 3 cases in 687 (9.0%) and 8 (0.1%) patients, respectively, receiving pembrolizumab. The median time to onset of hypothyroidism was 3.4 months (range 1 day to 25.9 months). The median duration was not reached (range 2 days to 63.0+ months). Hypothyroidism led to discontinuation of pembrolizumab in 6 (0.1%) patients. Hypothyroidism resolved in 216 (23.0%) patients, 16 with sequelae. In patients with cHL (n=389) the incidence of hypothyroidism was 17%, all of which were Grade 1 or 2. In patients with HNSCC treated with pembrolizumab as monotherapy (n=909), the incidence of hypothyroidism was 16.1% (all Grades) with 0.3% Grade 3. In patients with HNSCC treated with pembrolizumab in combination with platinum and 5-FU chemotherapy (n=276), the incidence of hypothyroidism was 15.2%, all of which were Grade 1 or 2. In patients treated with pembrolizumab in combination with axitinib or lenvatinib (n=1,456), the incidence of hypothyroidism was 46.2% (all Grades) with 0.8% Grade 3 or 4. In patients with melanoma, NSCLC and RCC treated with pembrolizumab monotherapy in the adjuvant setting (n=2,060), the incidence of hypothyroidism was 18.5%, the majority of which were Grade 1 or 2.

    Immune-mediated skin adverse reactions

    Immune-mediated severe skin reactions occurred in 130 (1.7%) patients, including Grade 2, 3, 4 or 5 cases in 11 (0.1%), 103 (1.3%), 1 (< 0.1%) and 1 (< 0.1%) patients, respectively, receiving pembrolizumab. The median time to onset of severe skin reactions was 2.8 months (range 2 days to 25.5 months). The median duration was 1.9 months (range 1 day to 47.1+ months). Severe skin reactions led to discontinuation of pembrolizumab in 18 (0.2%) patients. Severe skin reactions resolved in 95 patients, 2 with sequelae.

    Rare cases of SJS and TEN, some of them with fatal outcome, have been observed

    Complications of allogeneic HSCT in cHL

    Of 14 patients in KEYNOTE-013 who proceeded to allogeneic HSCT after treatment with pembrolizumab, 6 patients reported acute GVHD and 1 patient reported chronic GVHD, none of which were fatal. Two patients experienced hepatic VOD, one of which was fatal. One patient experienced engraftment syndrome post-transplant.

    Of 32 patients in KEYNOTE-087 who proceeded to allogeneic HSCT after treatment with pembrolizumab, 16 patients reported acute GVHD and 7 patients reported chronic GVHD, two of which were fatal. No patients experienced hepatic VOD. No patients experienced engraftment syndrome post-transplant.

    Of 14 patients in KEYNOTE-204 who proceeded to allogeneic HSCT after treatment with pembrolizumab, 8 patients reported acute GVHD and 3 patients reported chronic GVHD, none of which were fatal. No patients experienced hepatic VOD. One patient experienced engraftment syndrome post-transplant. 21

    Elevated liver enzymes when pembrolizumab is combined with axitinib in RCC

    In a clinical study of previously untreated patients with RCC receiving pembrolizumab in combination with axitinib, a higher than expected incidence of Grades 3 and 4 ALT increased (20%) and AST increased (13%) were observed. The median time to onset of ALT increased was 2.3 months (range: 7 days to 19.8 months). In patients with ALT ≥ 3 times ULN (Grades 2-4, n=116), ALT resolved to Grades 0-1 in 94%. Fifty-nine percent of the patients with increased ALT received systemic corticosteroids. Of the patients who recovered, 92 (84%) were rechallenged with either pembrolizumab (3%) or axitinib (31%) monotherapy or with both (50%). Of these patients, 55% had no recurrence of ALT > 3 times ULN, and of those patients with recurrence of ALT > 3 times ULN, all recovered. There were no Grade 5 hepatic events.

    Laboratory abnormalities

    In patients treated with pembrolizumab monotherapy, the proportion of patients who experienced a shift from baseline to a Grade 3 or 4 laboratory abnormality was as follows: 9.4% for lymphocytes decreased, 7.4% for sodium decreased, 5.8% for haemoglobin decreased, 5.3% for phosphate decreased, 5.3% for glucose increased, 3.3% for ALT increased, 3.1% for AST increased, 2.6% for alkaline phosphatase increased, 2.3% for potassium decreased, 2.1% for potassium increased, 1.9% for neutrophils decreased, 1.8% for platelets decreased, 1.8% for calcium increased, 1.7% for bilirubin increased, 1.5% for calcium decreased, 1.4% for albumin decreased, 1.3% for creatinine increased, 1.2% for glucose decreased, 0.8% for leucocytes decreased, 0.7% for magnesium increased, 0.5% for sodium increased, 0.4% for haemoglobin increased, and 0.2% for magnesium decreased.

    In patients treated with pembrolizumab in combination with chemotherapy, the proportion of patients who experienced a shift from baseline to a Grade 3 or 4 laboratory abnormality was as follows: 41.6% for neutrophils decreased, 27.1% for leucocytes decreased, 26.1% for lymphocytes decreased, 21.6% for haemoglobin decreased, 13.2% for platelets decreased, 10.7% for sodium decreased, 8.0% for phosphate decreased, 7.4% for potassium decreased, 6.5% for ALT increased, 6.2% for glucose increased, 5.6% for AST increased, 3.5% for calcium decreased, 3.1% for potassium increased, 2.9% for creatinine increased, 2.3% for albumin decreased, 2.2% for bilirubin increased, 2.1% for alkaline phosphatase increased, 1.9% for calcium increased, 1.1% for glucose decreased and 0.5% for sodium increased.

    In patients treated with pembrolizumab in combination with axitinib or lenvatinib, the proportion of patients who experienced a shift from baseline to a Grade 3 or 4 laboratory abnormality was as follows: 23.0% for lipase increased (not measured in patients treated with pembrolizumab and axitinib), 12.0% for lymphocyte decreased, 11.4% for sodium decreased, 11.2% for amylase increased, 11.2% for triglycerides increased, 10.4% for ALT increased, 8.9% for AST increased, 7.8% for glucose increased, 6.8% for phosphate decreased, 6.1% for potassium decreased, 5.1% for potassium increased, 4.5% for cholesterol increased, 4.4% for creatinine increased, 4.2% for haemoglobin decreased, 4.0% for magnesium decreased, 3.5% for neutrophils decreased, 3.1% for alkaline phosphatase increased, 3.0% for platelets decreased, 2.8% for bilirubin increased, 2.2% for calcium decreased, 1.7% for white blood cells decreased, 1.6% for magnesium increased, 1.5% for prothrombin INR increased, 1.4% for glucose decreased, 1.2% for albumin decreased, 1.2% for calcium increased, 0.4% for sodium increased, and 0.1% for haemoglobin increased.

    Immunogenicity

    In clinical studies in patients treated with pembrolizumab 2 mg/kg bw every three weeks, 200 mg every three weeks, or 10 mg/kg bw every two or three weeks as monotherapy, 36 (1.8%) of 2,034 evaluable patients tested positive for treatment-emergent antibodies to pembrolizumab, of which 9 (0.4%) patients had neutralising antibodies against pembrolizumab. There was no evidence of an altered pharmacokinetic or safety profile with anti-pembrolizumab binding or neutralising antibody development.

    Paediatric population

    The safety of pembrolizumab as monotherapy has been evaluated in 161 paediatric patients aged 9 months to 17 years with advanced melanoma, lymphoma, or PD-L1 positive advanced, relapsed, or refractory solid tumours at 2 mg/kg bw every 3 weeks in the Phase I/II study KEYNOTE-051. The 22 cHL population (n=22) included patients 11 to 17 years of age. The safety profile in paediatric patients was generally similar to that seen in adults treated with pembrolizumab. The most common adverse reactions (reported in at least 20% of paediatric patients) were pyrexia (33%), vomiting (30%), headache (26%), abdominal pain (22%), anaemia (21%), cough (21%) and constipation (20%). The majority of adverse reactions reported for monotherapy were of Grades 1 or 2 severity. Seventy six (47.2%) patients had 1 or more Grades 3 to 5 adverse reactions of which 5 (3.1%) patients had 1 or more adverse reactions that resulted in death. The frequencies are based on all reported adverse drug reactions, regardless of the investigator assessment of causality. Long-term safety data of pembrolizumab in adolescents with Stage IIB, IIC and III melanoma treated in the adjuvant setting are currently unavailable.

    Reporting of suspected adverse reactions

    Reporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via HPRA Pharmacovigilance.

    Website: www.hpra.ie.

    1. KEYTRUDA Summary of Product Characteristics, last accessed October 2023 from 
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