If you’re looking at treatment options for a certain kind of cancer, you may want to learn more about Keytruda (pembrolizumab).
Keytruda is a prescription drug that’s used in adults and some children with certain types of:
- skin cancer
- lung cancer
- head and neck cancer
- bladder cancer
- stomach cancer
- esophageal cancer
- cervical cancer
- liver cancer
- kidney cancer
- uterine cancer
- breast cancer
- colon cancer
- solid tumors
Keytruda comes as a liquid solution. It’s given as an intravenous (IV) infusion (an injection into a vein over a period of time). You’ll receive Keytruda at your doctor’s office or another healthcare facility, such as an infusion clinic.
The active ingredient in Keytruda is pembrolizumab, which is a biologic. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.)
Keep reading for details on Keytruda and cost and how to save money on prescriptions.
Note: For more details on Keytruda, see this in-depth article.
The price you pay for Keytruda can vary. Your cost may depend on your treatment plan and your insurance coverage (if you have it). It will also depend on how much you have to pay for an office visit with your doctor to receive Keytruda.
To find out how much you’ll pay for Keytruda, talk with your doctor or insurance provider.
Note: If you have insurance, you may need to get prior authorization before your insurance provider will cover Keytruda. This means your insurer and your doctor will discuss Keytruda in regard to your treatment. Then the insurance company will determine whether the drug is covered. If Keytruda requires prior authorization and you don’t receive it before you start treatment, you could pay the full cost of the drug.
Be sure to ask your insurance company whether Keytruda requires prior authorization.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about Keytruda and cost.
Is the cost of Keytruda significantly different with private insurance, with Medicare, and without insurance?
Your cost of Keytruda depends on many factors, including your insurance plan (if you have one) and the dose you receive. It’s possible that what you pay for Keytruda may vary depending on if you have private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.
To find out how much you’ll pay for Keytruda with your specific insurance plan, contact your insurance provider. They can help determine your costs based on your coverage and other factors.
How much does Keytruda cost per year?
Your cost of Keytruda per year depends on many factors. This may include:
- Your insurance plan
- Your dose of Keytruda
- The cost of a doctor’s visit to receive Keytruda infusions
It’s also important to note that some people may only take Keytruda for 1 year. Talk with your doctor about how long you may need to take Keytruda.
If you have insurance, you should contact your insurance provider to find out what your cost of Keytruda will be.
Keytruda is a biologic drug, which means it’s made from parts of living organisms. Keytruda comes only as a brand-name drug. There are no biosimilar forms available. Biosimilars are like generic drugs. Unlike generics, which are made for nonbiologic drugs, biosimilars are made for biologic drugs.
Why is there such a cost difference between biologic drugs and biosimilar drugs?
Biologic drugs can be expensive because of the research and testing needed to ensure their safety and effectiveness. The manufacturer of a biologic drug can sell it for up to
12 years. When the biologic drug’s patent expires, other drugmakers can create biosimilar versions. This competition in the market may lead to lower costs for biosimilars. And because biosimilars are very similar to biologic drugs, they don’t need to be studied again. This can also lead to lower costs for biosimilars.
If you need help covering the cost of Keytruda or understanding your insurance, check out these websites:
On these sites, you can find insurance information, details on drug assistance programs, and links to savings cards and other services.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. A program called The Merck Access Program may also be available for Keytruda. This program may help people who are having trouble with the cost of Keytruda. For more information, visit the website or call 855-257-3932.
If you still have questions about the cost of Keytruda, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to give you a better idea of what you’ll pay for this drug. But if you have health insurance, you’ll need to talk to your insurance provider to learn the actual cost you’d pay for Keytruda.
Examples of questions you may want to ask your doctor or insurance provider include:
- What should I do if I can’t afford Keytruda?
- Will my dosage of Keytruda affect the cost of the drug?
- How can I save on my Keytruda costs based on my insurance plan?
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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 another 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.