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Yervoy (ipilimumab) is a monoclonal antibody used for the treatment of several cancers, including melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, and non-small cell lung cancer. It works by targeting CTLA-4, a protein receptor that downregulates the immune system. By inhibiting CTLA-4, Yervoy enhances the immune system’s ability to fight cancer cells. It is administered as an intravenous infusion, typically once every 3 to 6 weeks​​​. Pros:
  1. Improved Survival Rates: Yervoy has been shown to improve survival rates in patients with advanced melanoma and other cancers.
  2. Immunotherapy Benefits: Unlike traditional chemotherapy, it harnesses the body’s immune system to specifically target cancer cells, potentially reducing damage to healthy cells.
  3. Combination Therapy: Often used in combination with other drugs like nivolumab (Opdivo), which can enhance the overall effectiveness of the treatment.
  1. Severe Side Effects: Yervoy can cause serious and sometimes fatal immune-mediated side effects, such as colitis, hepatitis, endocrinopathies, and skin reactions. Continuous monitoring is necessary to manage these risks​​.
  2. High Cost: A single 200 mg/40 mL vial of Yervoy can cost around $9,012.81 to $9,285.07 in the United States, making it a very expensive treatment option​.
  3. Frequent Monitoring and Hospital Visits: Patients require regular check-ups to monitor for side effects, which can be time-consuming and burdensome.
Price Comparison:
  • US Prices: Approximately $9,012.81 to $9,285.07 per 200 mg/40 mL vial. Prices can vary depending on the pharmacy and location​ ​.
  • Patient Assistance Programs: Financial assistance is available through programs like the BMS Oncology Co-Pay Assistance Program, which can significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs for eligible patients​ ​.
Conclusion: Yervoy is a crucial option in the treatment of advanced cancers, offering significant benefits in terms of survival rates and the potential for durable responses. However, its high cost and the risk of severe side effects necessitate careful consideration and thorough discussions with healthcare providers. Assistance programs can help mitigate the financial burden for eligible patients.
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