Cancer treatment with KEYTRUDA

KEYTRUDA is registered in New Zealand as an immuno-oncology treatment for advanced melanoma, non­-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), Hodgkin Lymphoma, urothelial cancer and head and neck cancer.


KEYTRUDA is fully funded for people with melanoma that has spread and can’t be removed by surgery (advanced melanoma).

Lung cancer

KEYTRUDA is approved, but not funded, as a treatment for a sub-type of lung cancer called NSCLC.

Hodgkin Lymphoma

KEYTRUDA is approved, but not funded, for certain patients with classical Hodgkin Lymphoma (cHL).

Urothelial cancer

KEYTRUDA is approved, but not funded, for certain patients with urothelial cancer.

Head and neck cancer

KEYTRUDA is approved, but not funded, for certain patients with head and neck cancer.


Immuno-oncology, also known as cancer immunotherapy, uses medicines that are designed to help the body's own immune system to recognise, then destroy cancer cells.


Find out more about KEYTRUDA and how to access it.


Find out what the options are for accessing KEYTRUDA in New Zealand.

News and updates

News release

KEYTRUDA® trial demonstrated effectiveness in patients with lung cancer

May 10, 2019

KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) trial demonstrated effectiveness in patients with lung cancer that had spread to the brain and liver.

News release

KEYTRUDA® - now has eighth registration – for head and neck cancer

Oct 8, 2018

KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) gains its eighth registration in New Zealand – this time for head and neck cancer which has reoccurred or spread after treatment.

News release

New KEYTRUDA® evidence in lung cancer reduces risk of death by 50%

Apr 20, 2018

New KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) plus chemotherapy evidence presented at the American Association of Cancer Research meeting this week showed a 50% reduction in the risk of death compared to chemotherapy alone.


KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) 50mg powder for infusion
KEYTRUDA is a Prescription Only Medicine Use: KEYTRUDA is used:
  • in the treatment of melanoma which cannot be removed by surgery alone or when it has spread to multiple sites in the body.
  • in the treatment of a kind of lung cancer called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
  • in the treatment of classical Hodgkin Lymphoma (cHL)
  • in the treatment of urothelial carcinoma, including bladder cancer
  • in the treatment of a kind of head and neck cancer called head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC)

Side effects: Immune-mediated side effects including inflammation of the lungs, colon, liver, kidneys, pituitary gland, brain, eye, muscles, nervous system, pancreas, and heart, thyroid disorders, type 1 diabetes mellitus. Severe skin reactions including Steven-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis. Severe infusion reactions including hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis. Transplant recipients: rejection of a transplanted organ, graft-versus-host-disease (in people with a bone marrow transplant using donor cells). Very common side effects include diarrhea, nausea, itching, rash, joint pain, back pain, feeling tired, cough, patches of discoloured skin, stomach pain, decreased levels of sodium in blood. Tiredness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, shortness of breath, rash, itching, headache, hair loss, and, infections of the upper respiratory tract were reported when given in combination with chemotherapy. You may experience more than one side effect at the same time.

All medicines have risks and benefits. Talk to your doctor to see if KEYTRUDA is right for you. KEYTRUDA is a funded medicine for melanoma patients– restrictions apply. KEYTRUDA is an unfunded medicine for NSCLC, HNSCC, cHL and urothelial carcinoma patients. Ask your health professional the cost of the medicine and any other medical fees that may apply. Use only as directed and if symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist, or health professional.

Based on data sheet prepared 17 July 2018. Marketed by: Merck Sharp & Dohme (New Zealand) Limited, Newmarket, Auckland. . For additional product information, consult the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI), available on request, phone 0800 500 673 or refer to the Medsafe website

This site is intended for New Zealand residents.

References to support this are available on request.

MSD recommends people always seek the medical advice of their healthcare professional.

Copyright © 2018 Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, New Jersey, USA. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2018 Merck Sharp & Dohme (New Zealand) Limited. Level 3, 123 Carlton Gore Road, Newmarket, Auckland. All rights reserved.

ONCO-1273154-0000 First Issued November 2017 TAPS NA10076 essence MSD8360

Updated: October 2018