Imfinzi® (durvalumab) is an immunotherapy treatment, meaning it impacts the way the immune system functions. More specifically, it is a human monoclonal antibody that blocks the programmed death-ligand PD-L1. It is indicated for use by adults with unresectable, Stage III NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer) that has not progressed beyond the chest, nor following concurrent platinum-based chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It is also indicated for use by individuals with specific types of bladder cancer, and is administered via an infusion. Individuals taking Imfinzi should be monitored for pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs), changes in liver function, intestinal problems, changes in kidney function, hormone changes, severe rashes, infections, and infusion-related reactions.
What are the ingredients in Imfinzi?
The active ingredient in Imfinzi is durvalumab, the PD-L1 blocker.
How does Imfinzi work?
Imfinzi blocks a programmed death-ligand, PD-L1. PD-L1 is a protein that plays a key role in regulating the immune system and immune response. PD-L1 binds to a receptor called PD-1 on specific immune system cells, including T cells and B cells. These cells normally attack foreign invaders, such as cancers. When PD-L1 and PD-1 join together, the immune system response is inhibited, or turned down, significantly. This process can happen in the body during pregnancy, or when an individual has an autoimmune condition or other condition like hepatitis. When the immune system is turned down, the chance of immune cells like T cells and B cells finding and eliminating cancer cells is decreased. Cancer cells can take advantage of this and can increase PD-1 and PD-L1 binding to avoid the protective cells of the immune system. Imfinzi blocks the joining of PD-1 and PD-L1 to keep the immune response from being suppressed.
What are the possible side effects of Imfinzi?
Multiple clinical trials evaluated the safety and efficacy of Imfinzi. The most common side effects of Imfinzi for individuals using it for treatment of NSCLC are fatigue, cough, radiation pneumonitis/pneumonitis, rash, problems breathing, and upper respiratory infections. This is not an exhaustive list of all potential side effects of Imfinzi. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist for further information.
Things to note about Imfinzi
Imfinzi is an immunotherapy treatment that can impact the way the immune system functions, potentially leading to serious damage to other organs and tissues. Individuals taking Imfinzi should be monitored for the following complications:
- Liver problems, including hepatitis
- Lung problems, including pneumonitis
- Intestinal problems, including colitis
- Hormone gland problems, including issues with the thyroid, pituitary, pancreas, and adrenals
- Kidney problems
- Severe infections
- Severe infusion reactions
It is also important to alert your doctor or healthcare provider if you notice any other new or worsening symptoms, including rash, confusion, mood or behavior changes, muscle weakness or pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, or difficulties with vision. These symptoms could be indicative of an issue with another organ or organ system.
The above signs and symptoms are not exhaustive of all indicators of potential issues. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider if you are concerned about any new or worsening symptoms, even beyond the list above. Imfinzi is indicated for use by adults only. It is not indicated for use by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Before starting Imfinzi, alert your provider if you:
- Have liver problems
- Have immune system problems including lupus, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease
- Have breathing or lung problems
- Have had an organ transplant
- Currently have or are currently being treated for an infection
- Are taking any other medications, including vitamins, over-the-counter medications, or herbal supplements
- Have any other medical conditions
- Are pregnant or could become pregnant
- Are breastfeeding
Imfinzi is administered through an intravenous (IV) infusion into a vein. The infusion generally takes place over the course of an hour, however, the time of administration may be adjusted by your doctor or healthcare provider. The exact dosage and number of treatments will be determined by your doctor, however, a common dose and schedule is 10 mg/kg once every two weeks. Any missed infusion appointments need to be rescheduled as soon as possible.1
- Imfinzi Prescribing Information. AstraZeneca. https://www.azpicentral.com/imfinzi/imfinzi.pdf#page=1. Published February 2018. Accessed March 1, 2018.