It’s a prescription drug that’s used to treat the following types of NHL in adults, in certain situations:
For treating follicular lymphoma, Yescarta received
You receive Yescarta as a one-time intravenous (IV) infusion (an injection into a vein given over time). A healthcare professional will give you the infusion in a specialized treatment center. For more information, see the “How is Yescarta administered?” section below.
Yescarta belongs to a group of drugs called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies. It contains the drug axicabtagene ciloleucel, which is a biologic drug. A biologic is
Yescarta is not available in a biosimilar form. Biosimilars are like generic drugs. But unlike generics, which are made for non-biologic drugs, biosimilars are made for biologic drugs.
Keep reading to learn about Yescarta’s uses, side effects, and more.
Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Yescarta.
Is Tecartus an alternative to Yescarta?
No, brexucabtagene autoleucel (Tecartus) is not an alternative to Yescarta. (In the past, Tecartus was called KTE-X19.)
Both Yescarta and Tecartus belong to a group of drugs called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies. But each drug is prescribed for different kinds of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) in specific situations.
Yescarta is prescribed to treat large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma. Tecartus is prescribed to treat mantle cell lymphoma. In addition, Tecartus is prescribed to treat a kind of blood cancer called acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).
If you’re interested in learning about alternatives to Yescarta, talk with your doctor.
How does Kymriah compare with Yescarta?
Both Kymriah and Yescarta belong to a group of drugs called CAR T-cell therapies. Kymriah contains the drug tisagenlecleucel, while Yescarta contains the drug axicabtagene ciloleucel.
Both drugs are prescribed to treat large B-cell lymphoma in certain situations. And each drug is also prescribed to treat other kinds of cancer.
To learn more about how Kymriah compares with Yescarta, see this article. You can also talk with your doctor for information about these drugs.
What is Yescarta’s mechanism of action?
A drug’s mechanism of action is how it works.
Yescarta is used to treat large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma in certain situations. These cancers affect B cells, which are a kind of white blood cell.
Yescarta works by attaching to a certain protein on B cells. By attaching to this protein, Yescarta activates your immune system. And this helps your immune system attack cancer cells.
For more information about how Yescarta works, talk with your doctor. You can also visit the drugmaker’s website, which explains how it works to treat large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.
Can Yescarta be used to treat ALL?
No, Yescarta is not used to treat ALL. Instead, Yescarta is used to treat large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma in certain situations.
ALL is a kind of blood cancer. Symptoms can include pale-looking skin or gums, weakness, bleeding, and bruising.
Yescarta belongs to a group of drugs called CAR T-cell therapies. There are other CAR T-cell therapies available that treat ALL. These include Tecartus and Kymriah, which are described in separate FAQs above.
To learn more about treatment options for ALL, talk with your doctor.
What is Yescarta’s success rate for the kinds of large B-cell lymphomas it treats?
Yescarta treats two kinds of NHL in specific situations: large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma. The drug has been shown to be an effective treatment for these kinds of NHL.
For information on how Yescarta performed in studies, see the drug’s prescribing information. To learn more about the success rate for Yescarta, talk with your doctor.
Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. A program called Kite Konnect may also help you find ways to lower the cost of this drug.
You can also check out this article to learn more about saving money on prescriptions.
Yescarta is prescribed for adults. Below are brief descriptions of the types of NHL that Yescarta treats.
Note: Yescarta is not approved to treat lymphoma that begins in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).
Large B-cell lymphoma
Yescarta is used to treat several types of large B-cell lymphoma. These include:
- diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)
- primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma
- high-grade (fast-growing) B-cell lymphoma
- DLBCL from follicular lymphoma
For this purpose, Yescarta is used when either of the following applies:
- Your first cancer treatment did not work, or your cancer returned within 1 year after your first treatment.
- At least two kinds of cancer treatment did not work for your cancer, or your cancer returned after you’ve had at least two kinds of cancer treatments in the past.
Yescarta is used to treat follicular lymphoma in either of the following situations:
- At least two kinds of cancer treatment did not work for your cancer.
- Your cancer returned after you’ve had at least two kinds of cancer treatments in the past.
For this purpose, Yescarta received
Yescarta is a kind of drug called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy.
It’s made using white blood cells from your immune system. These cells are collected from your blood and sent to a laboratory. The laboratory then modifies your white blood cells and uses them to make your Yescarta infusion.
This kind of treatment is sometimes called gene therapy. This is because the genes inside of your white blood cells are changed to help them fight cancer.
Like most drugs, Yescarta may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Yescarta may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.
Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:
- your age
- other health conditions you have
- other medications you take
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Yescarta. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a list of some of the mild side effects that Yescarta can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Yescarta’s prescribing information.
Mild side effects of Yescarta that have been reported include:
- digestive problems, such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation
- fatigue (low energy)
- fever or chills
- loss of appetite
- mild infection caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi
- muscle pain
- swelling in various parts of the body, such as your face, arms, or legs
- mild allergic reaction*
* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.
Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Yescarta can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Yescarta, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects of Yescarta that have been reported include:
- heart problems, such as fast heart rate and abnormal heart rhythm
- increased risk of cancers other than those Yescarta is used to treat
- low blood pressure
- low levels of certain white blood cells, including lymphocytes and neutrophils
- low level of immunoglobulins (a kind of protein) in your blood
- low level of oxygen in your blood cells or tissues
- low level of platelets in your blood
- low level of phosphate in your blood
- low level of red blood cells
- serious infection, such as pneumonia
- boxed warnings: risk of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and risk of nervous system problems*
- severe allergic reaction†
* For more information, see the “What should be considered before taking Yescarta?” section below.
† To learn more about this side effect, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to Yescarta.
Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Yescarta. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
This section gives an overview of Yescarta’s dosage. Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Yescarta that’s right for you.
You’ll receive Yescarta as a one-time infusion. The infusion typically lasts about 30 minutes.
Your doctor will calculate your dose of the drug based on your body weight. To find out your specific dose, ask your doctor.
Questions about Yescarta’s dosing
Below are some common questions about Yescarta’s dosing.
- What if I miss receiving my dose of Yescarta? If you miss the appointment to receive your infusion of Yescarta, contact treatment center staff right away. They’ll help you reschedule your appointment.
- How long does Yescarta take to work? Yescarta starts working in your body as soon as your infusion begins. But it may take several weeks before your symptoms ease. If you have questions about what to expect with Yescarta treatment, talk with your doctor.
You’ll receive Yescarta as a one-time intravenous (IV) infusion (an injection into a vein given over time). The infusion typically lasts about 30 minutes. Your doctor will explain the details of how the drug is administered before you receive your infusion. Below is an overview of this procedure.
A healthcare professional will give you your Yescarta infusion in a specialized treatment center. These centers have been certified by a risk evaluation and mitigation strategies (REMS) program.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires certain medications to have a
Your healthcare team will monitor you at the treatment center for at least 7 days after your Yescarta infusion. For at least 4 weeks after your infusion of Yescarta, you should stay within 2 hours of the treatment center. This is so the healthcare professional who gave the infusion can watch for side effects and make sure that Yescarta is working for you.
In addition, you shouldn’t drive a car for at least 8 weeks after your infusion of Yescarta. This is because the drug may temporarily cause dizziness, confusion, and loss of coordination.
It’s also important that you do not donate organs, blood, tissues, or cells after your infusion of Yescarta, as they may contain modified white blood cells from your infusion. Avoid making these donations until your doctor tells you it’s safe to do so.
If you have questions about Yescarta’s administration or your dosage schedule, ask your doctor.
Using Yescarta with other drugs
Before your infusion of Yescarta, you’ll receive chemotherapy. This kind of drug kills the rapidly growing cells in your body, including cancer cells. Chemotherapy helps prepare your body for an infusion of Yescarta.
The chemotherapy drugs you’ll receive with Yescarta are cyclophosphamide and fludarabine. You’ll receive these medications on the fifth, fourth, and third days before your Yescarta infusion.
Then, about 1 hour before your infusion of Yescarta, you’ll receive diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). These drugs will help lower your risk of side effects from the infusion.
If you have questions about using other drugs with Yescarta, talk with your doctor or pharmacist
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about Yescarta and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.
Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:
- Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
- How will Yescarta affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
- Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
- If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.
Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.
When considering treatment with Yescarta, it’s important to discuss a few things with your doctor. These include:
- other medications you take
- other medical conditions you have
- your overall health
These factors and others are described in more detail below.
Taking a medication with certain vaccines, foods, and other things can affect how the medication works. These effects are called interactions.
Before taking Yescarta, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter types. Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Yescarta.
For information about drug-condition interactions, see the “Other warnings” section below.
Interactions with drugs or supplements
There currently aren’t any medications or supplements known to interact with Yescarta. But this doesn’t mean drug interactions with Yescarta won’t be recognized in the future. For example, new medications may be approved that interact with Yescarta.
For this reason, you should still tell your doctor and pharmacist about any medications you take besides Yescarta. This way, they can check for any new interactions during your treatment.
It’s possible that Yescarta may interact with live vaccines. (Live vaccines are made from a weakened form of the virus or bacterium the vaccine protects against.)
Examples of live vaccines include:
It isn’t known for certain what effects the drug may have on live vaccines. To be safe, it’s recommended that you avoid getting a live vaccine in the 6 weeks before starting chemotherapy.* And you’ll continue avoiding live vaccines until your immune system has recovered after receiving Yescarta.
Before you receive Yescarta, discuss with your doctor whether your vaccines are up to date. They may have you get certain vaccines you need at least 6 weeks before the chemotherapy that precedes your dose of Yescarta.
Also, after treatment, tell your doctor or pharmacist that you’ve received Yescarta before getting any vaccines. They’ll tell you when it may be safe to receive your vaccine.
* Before your infusion of Yescarta, you’ll be given chemotherapy. This kind of drug helps prepare your body for an infusion of Yescarta. For details, see the “How is Yescarta administered?” section above.
Because of these risks, it’s important that you stay within 2 hours of the treatment center where you receive Yescarta. You should stay this close to the treatment center for at least 4 weeks after your infusion. This is so the healthcare professional who gave the infusion can watch for side effects and make sure that Yescarta is working for you.
You’ll find details on Yescarta’s boxed warnings below.
Risk of CRS
Yescarta may cause CRS. This condition happens when cells in the immune system release certain proteins into the blood. This can lead to symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue (low energy), and low blood pressure.
CRS can be life threatening for some people. If you have symptoms of CRS during or after your infusion of Yescarta, tell your doctor right away. They’ll give you treatments for this condition. These include corticosteroids and tocilizumab (Actemra).
Risk of nervous system problems
Yescarta may cause neurotoxicity. This refers to problems with your nervous system, which includes your brain and nerve cells. Examples of nervous system problems you may have with Yescarta include dizziness, headache, insomnia (trouble sleeping), seizures, and encephalopathy (a serious brain condition).
Certain nervous system problems can be life threatening for some people. If you have symptoms of a nervous system problem with Yescarta, tell your doctor right away.
Yescarta can sometimes cause harmful effects in people who have certain conditions. This is known as a drug-condition interaction. Other factors may also affect whether Yescarta is a good treatment option for you.
Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Yescarta. Factors to consider include those described below.
Infection, including hepatitis B. Yescarta works by stimulating your immune system. If you have an active infection, your immune system may become overactive. Before receiving Yescarta, tell your doctor if you have an active infection. They’ll treat the infection before treatment with the drug.
Also tell your doctor if you’ve ever had hepatitis B. In people who’ve had this infection, Yescarta may reactivate the virus that causes it, resulting in symptoms of hepatitis B. Your doctor will monitor you for symptoms of virus reactivation after you receive Yescarta.
Kidney, liver, or heart problems. Yescarta may cause side effects that could worsen kidney, liver, or heart problems. Before using Yescarta, be sure to tell your doctor if you have any conditions affecting your kidney, liver or heart.
Lung or breathing problems. Yescarta may cause side effects that could worsen lung or breathing problems. Before using Yescarta, be sure to tell your doctor if you have lung or breathing problems.
Allergic reaction. If you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to any of Yescarta’s ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Yescarta. Ask them what other medications are better options for you.
Yescarta and alcohol
There isn’t a known interaction between Yescarta and alcohol.
But drinking alcohol before or after your Yescarta infusion may worsen certain side effects from the drug. Examples include headache and digestive problems such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor before your infusion of Yescarta. They can tell you how much alcohol (if any) is safe to drink before or after your infusion.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Below is important information about using Yescarta while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Yescarta and pregnancy
It’s thought that Yescarta may not be safe to use during pregnancy.
This drug has not been studied in pregnancy. But based on the way Yescara works in the body, it could cause harm to a fetus.
If you’re able to become pregnant, your doctor will give you a pregnancy test before you receive Yescarta. This will help them confirm that you are not pregnant before receiving your infusion.
If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, talk with your doctor before your infusion of Yescarta. They’ll likely recommend a different treatment for your condition.
Yescarta and breastfeeding
It’s unclear whether Yescarta is safe to use while breastfeeding. It’s not known if the drug may pass into breast milk or what effects it may have on a child who is breastfed.
If you’re breastfeeding or planning to do so, talk with your doctor before your infusion of Yescarta. They’ll recommend healthy ways to feed your child during treatment.
If you have questions about taking Yescarta, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Questions you may want to ask include:
- How does Yescarta compare with other treatments for my condition?
- Do I need any vaccines before getting my Yescarta infusion?
- Will Yescarta cure my condition?
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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.