Advertisement

Generic Name:

ado-trastuzumab-emtansine, Injectable solution

All Brands

  • Kadcyla
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for ado-trastuzumab-emtansine

Injectable solution
1

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine is an injected drug that’s used to treat breast cancer. Specifically, it’s given for HER2-positive breast cancer that’s spread to other parts of your body (metastatic). It’s used after prior treatment with trastuzumab (Herceptin) and drugs called taxanes. 

2

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine shouldn’t be confused with trastuzumab (Herceptin), and they’re not interchangeable. Make sure your doctor writes both the brand name and generic name on your prescription.

3

This medication is given as an IV infusion by your healthcare provider at an infusion center. This is because it can cause serious infusion-related reactions. Your first infusion is given over 90 minutes, while infusions after that will take at least 30 minutes, if you tolerate it well. You’ll receive it once every 3 weeks.

4

Common side effects include tiredness; nausea; pain that affects your bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons; bleeding; low platelet count; headache; liver problems; constipation; and nosebleeds.

5

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine can cause severe liver problems and can reduce your heart function. Your doctor will check your health before you start and regularly during treatment with this drug. Tell your doctor if you have liver or heart disease before you start taking ado-trastuzumab emtansine.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA warning

This drug has a Black Box Warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients to potentially dangerous effects.

  • Liver problems warning. This drug can cause life-threatening liver problems. Your doctor will check your liver function before you start treatment and in between each dose. If the medication is affecting your liver, your doctor may change your dose or have you stop taking the drug. 
  • Heart problems warning. This drug can cause heart problems that may or may not cause symptoms. Your doctor will check your heart function before starting and during treatment. If this drug affects your heart function, your doctor may stop treatment. 
  • Pregnancy warning. Taking this drug during pregnancy can harm your unborn baby. It may cause birth defects or be fatal. Use effective forms of birth control during treatment with this drug and for 6 months after your last dose.
  • Do not substitute with trastuzumab. You should not substitute this drug with trastuzumab.

Risk of serious bleeding

This drug can cause life-threatening bleeding. Your risk may be higher if you’re also taking a drug to thin your blood (antiplatelet) or prevent blood clots (anticoagulation). Make sure you tell your doctor about all of the medications that you’re taking. Your doctor will watch you closely for signs of bleeding.  

Risk of infusion reactions

This drug can cause serious infusion-related reactions. Your doctor will ask you to stay in the office for a while after each infusion to watch you for signs of a reaction. You’ll need to stay for at least 90 minutes after your first infusion and for at least 30 minutes after following infusions. Your doctor will watch you for the following symptoms:

  • warmth and reddening of your skin (flushing)
  • chills
  • fever
  • trouble breathing
  • low blood pressure
  • wheezing
  • tightening of the muscles in your chest and around your airways
  • fast heart rate  

If you develop a reaction, your doctor may temporarily or permanently stop giving you this drug.

What is ado-trastuzumab emtansine?

This drug is a prescription drug. It’s available as a powder for intravenous (IV) solution, which is only given by a healthcare provider.

This is a combination of two or more drugs in a single form. It’s important to know about all the drugs in the combination because they each may have unique traits.

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer that’s spread to other parts of your body (metastatic).

More Details

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called HER2-targeted antibodies and microtubule inhibitor conjugates.

More Details

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer that’s spread to other parts of your body (metastatic). It’s given after prior treatment with trastuzumab (Herceptin) and drugs called taxanes. Prior treatment could mean for your first treatment of breast cancer or for metastatic breast cancer.

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called HER2-targeted antibodies and microtubule inhibitor conjugates. A class of drugs refers to medications that work similarly. They have a similar chemical structure and are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug finds HER2-positive cells and attaches to them. It tells the cells to stop growing and tells the body’s immune system to destroy them. This drug also goes inside of the cell and releases the chemotherapy inside. The chemotherapy works inside of the cell, causing the cells to die.

Advertisement
SECTION 2 of 5

ado-trastuzumab-emtansine Side Effects

Injectable solution

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with ado-trastuzumab emtansine include:

  • tiredness

  • nausea

  • pain that affects your bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons

  • bleeding

  • low platelet count

  • headache

  • liver problems

  • constipation

  • nosebleeds

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening, or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • lung problems. Signs of lung problems may include:

    • trouble breathing
    • cough
    • tiredness
    • fluid in the lungs
  •  infusion-related reactions. Symptoms may include:

    • warmth and reddening of your skin (flushing)
    • chills
    • fever
    • trouble breathing
    • low blood pressure
    • wheezing
    • tightening of the muscles in your chest around your airways
    • a fast heart rate
  • serious bleeding

  • low platelet count. Platelets help your blood to clot. Mild cases of low platelets may not cause any symptoms. Signs of very low platelets may include:

    • easy bruising
    • easy bleeding
    • prolonged bleeding from cuts
  • nerve damage in the hands and/or feet. Symptoms may include:

    • numbness and tingling
    • burning or sharp pain
    • sensitivity to touch
    • lack of coordination
    • muscle weakness
    • loss of muscle function
  • skin reactions around the infusion site. Symptoms may include:

    • redness
    • tenderness
    • skin irritation
    • pain
    • swelling
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine doesn’t cause drowsiness.

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine may cause skin reactions around the infusion site. These reactions are more likely to happen within the first 24 hours after your infusion. Symptoms may include:

  • redness
  • tenderness
  • skin irritation
  • pain or swelling at the infusion site

This drug may also cause a more serious infusion-related reaction. Symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • warmth and reddening of your skin (flushing)
  • low blood pressure
  • trouble breathing

These symptoms often improve several hours to a day after the infusion is stopped. Your doctor will watch you for signs of infusion-related reactions after each infusion.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

ado-trastuzumab-emtansine May Interact with Other Medications

Injectable solution

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. Your healthcare provider will look out for interactions with your current medications. Always be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, herbs, or vitamins you’re taking.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
liver disease
People with liver disease

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine may cause liver problems, including liver failure. If you already have liver problems, this drug may make your condition worse. Tell your doctor if you have liver problems or a family history of liver disease. Your doctor may not start this drug depending on your liver health.

heart disease
People with heart disease

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine may reduce your heart function. If you have a history of heart failure, heart rate problems, heart attack, or blood flow issues, this drug may raise your risk of heart problems. Be sure to tell your doctor of any heart conditions before you start taking this drug.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

Ado-trastuzumab emtansine is a category D pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Studies show a risk of adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. The benefits of taking the drug during pregnancy may outweigh the potential risks in certain cases.

Taking this drug during pregnancy can harm your unborn baby. Use effective forms of birth control during treatment with this drug and for 6 months after your last dose. 

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if ado-trastuzumab passes through breast milk. If it does, it may cause serious effects in a breastfeeding child.

You and your doctor may need to decide if you’ll take this drug or breastfeed.

for children
For children

The safety and effectiveness of this drug haven’t been established in people younger than 18 years.

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take ado-trastuzumab-emtansine (Dosage)

Injectable solution

Your doctor will determine a dose that’s right for you based on your individual needs. Your general health may affect your dose. Tell your doctor about all health conditions you have before your doctor or nurse administers the drug to you.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you don’t take it at all or stop taking it

If you don’t receive your infusion, your breast cancer may come back. It may also spread to more parts of your body.

If you take too much

Taking too much of this drug may cause very low platelets or may even be fatal.

If you think that you’ve received too much, tell your doctor. They’ll treat whatever symptoms you’re experiencing until you recover from the toxicities.

What to do if you miss a dose

If you miss a planned dose, call your doctor to reschedule it as soon as possible. Don’t skip it and wait until the next planned cycle. Your next planned doses may be rescheduled to keep a 3-week gap in between doses.

How to tell If the drug Is working

Your doctor will do tests to see how you are responding to this drug. It may be working if your breast cancer improves or doesn’t spread.

This drug is a long-term drug treatment.

You’ll receive these infusions until you no longer respond to the drug, if you’re unable to tolerate the side effects, or if your doctor finds a therapy that will work better for you.

This drug should be given once every 3 weeks

It’s important that you don’t miss doses. If you miss a dose, you should let your doctor know as soon as possible and not wait until the next scheduled dose.

How long does it take?

Your first infusion of this drug is given over 90 minutes. Your doctor will want you to stay and rest for at least 90 minutes after your infusion is completed. 

Each following infusion takes about 30 minutes. Your doctor will ask you to stay for at least 30 minutes after your infusion is done.

Can I drive home after?

You may need a ride home or help leaving the office, especially after your first dose. Everyone reacts differently to this drug. It may cause bothersome side effects.

Travel

Before you travel, talk to your doctor. You may need to plan your travel around your infusion schedule.

This drug should only be given by a healthcare professional that is familiar with your medical history, experienced with the use of cancer chemotherapy, and at a location with appropriate medical support to manage any severe infusion reactions. 

Your doctor may do additional tests

Before starting and during treatment with this drug, your doctor may check the following:

  • HER2 testing. This is done to check if you have an overexpression of the HER2 protein on your cancer cells. This tells if you’re a good candidate to try this drug.
  • liver function tests (LFTs). If your liver tests are abnormal, your doctor may decrease your dose or stop treatment with this drug. 
  • heart function tests. Your doctor will test your heart function before starting and every 3 months during treatment to make sure your heart function stays normal. 
  • platelet count. If your platelet level drops too low, your doctor may strop treatment with this drug.
  • pregnancy test. Your doctor may give you a pregnancy test to make sure that you’re not pregnant while taking this drug.

Clinical monitoring

Before starting and during treatment with this drug, your doctor may check:

  • HER-2 testing
  • symptoms and imaging to see how your cancer is responding to treatment
  • liver function
  • platelet count
  • heart function
  • signs of an infusion-related reaction, including:
    • warmth and reddening of your skin (flushing)
    • chills
    • fever
    • trouble breathing
    • low blood pressure
    • wheezing
    • tightening of the muscles in your chest around your airways
    • a fast heart rate
  • signs of nerve damage, including:
    • numbness and tingling
    • burning or sharp pain
    • sensitivity to touch
    • lack of coordination
    • muscle weakness
    • loss of muscle function

Insurance

Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for this drug.

SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does ado-trastuzumab-emtansine Cost?

Injectable solution

We've partnered with GoodRx so you can compare prices, find discounts and save up to 80% on your next prescription. Check out the low coupon prices below — no insurance required.

Compare prices and save up to 80% on your next refill!

Lowest price for ado-trastuzumab-emtansine

Membership warehouse $2,811.81
Target (CVS) $2,888.27
Walgreens $2,900.24
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for ado-trastuzumab-emtansine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Enter your zip code to find the best deal near you.

These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for ado-trastuzumab-emtansine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on August 2, 2016

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement