Experts all over the world are still competing with time to provide effective and minimal side effects of cancer drugs. Well, lately, immunotherapy-based treatment for cancer seems to provide a pretty good promise. One cancer drug that utilizes the immune system is pembrolizumab.
What is pembrolizumab actually? Are these drugs allowed to circulate in Indonesia? Can it really be the right cancer drug? Find out the full information below.
What drugs do you use?
Pembrolizumab is a type of monoclonal antibody drug used for the treatment of various types of cancer. This cancer drug works by helping the immune system to slow down or stop the growth of cancer cells. Here are the types of cancer that might use treatment with pembrolizumab.
- Melanoma that has spread (metastasis)
- NSCLC type lung cancer that has spread
- Recurrent head and neck cancer or not working with previous chemotherapy drugs
- Hodgkin lymphoma in children and adults who do not improve after chemotherapy or improve but relapse after three or more treatments
- Cancer of the bladder (in the lining of the bladder and other parts of the urinary tract) that has spread
- Spread (colorectal) cancer that has spread
It should be noted, this drug is not approved for the treatment of multiple myeloma blood cancer. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, which is equivalent to the POM Agency in Indonesia, issued a drug safety warning when combined with dexamethasone and immunomodulatory agents such as lenalidomide or pomalidomide.
How to work pembrolizumab as a cancer drug
Pembrolizumab prevents a certain bond between T cells (one type of white blood cell) and cancer cells that can weaken the immune system against cancer. In other words, when this bond occurs, which is the bond between the two cells (PD1 and PDL1), T cells become weak against cancer cells and are unable to kill these abnormal cancer cells.
When pembrolizumab is given to the body, it inhibits the bonding. If T cells are not bound to cancer cells, they will remain strong enough to kill cancer cells.
How do you administer pembrolizumab?
Pembrolizumab is available in powder to be dissolved in liquid and then injected into a vein for more than 30 minutes by a doctor or nurse in the hospital. This cancer drug is usually injected in a dose of 200 mg, given every three weeks to 24 months.
Can this drug be accessed in Indonesia?
Unfortunately, this promising cancer drug has not yet been registered in Indonesia and has not received permission from the POM. In the Southeast Asia region, based on data from the MIMS (Monthly Index of Medical Specialties), these drugs have been entered in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Therefore, if you want to try cancer treatment with this drug, you really have to get it abroad.
How much treatment is needed?
The cost problem is a big challenge for using this drug, because the price is very expensive. The cost needed for treatment accompanied by kometerapi is 257,000 US dollars per year. However, the company stated that in eight months, cancer cells had died so you would need to pay 172,000 US dollars, or around 2.3 billion rupiah.
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