Libtayo (cemiplimab-rwlc)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: December 2022 | Last updated: December 2023

Libtayo® (cemiplimab-rwlc) is a drug used to treat some forms of lung cancer. It works with the immune system to attack cancer cells.

Certain cancer cells have large amounts of the protein PD-L1. PD-L1 protein can interact with another protein, known as PD-1. This second protein is found on some immune system cells, which can help the cancer cells avoid being found by the immune system. Libtayo targets PD-1, which allows the immune system to detect and attack the cancer cells.1,2

When used with platinum-based chemotherapy, Libtayo is approved to treat people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with no EGFR, ALK, or ROS1 aberrations. It is also approved to be used alone in adults with NSCLC tumors with a PD-L1 expression of 50 percent or more.1

Libtayo is also approved to treat people with certain forms of basal cell carcinoma and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.1

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What are the ingredients in Libtayo?

The active ingredient in Libtayo is cemiplimab-rwlc.3

How does Libtayo work?

Libtayo is a monoclonal antibody. Monoclonal antibodies are created in a laboratory to attach to specific antigens on the surface of certain cells, including cancerous and/or immune cells. Antigens are substances that your body does not recognize.1,2

Antibodies are a normal part of your immune system. They attach to antigens to mark them for destruction by the immune system. Libtayo targets the PD-1 receptor and binds, or sticks, to it. By binding to PD-1, Libtayo blocks cancer cells from using the PD-1 pathway to stay invisible to the immune system. When that pathway is blocked, your immune system is able to fight the cancer.1,2

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of Libtayo include:1,2

  • Hair loss
  • Pain throughout the body
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Nerve damage
  • Poor appetite

Other severe side effects may occur, including:1

  • Reactions caused by the immune system, such as hormone gland issues, kidney issues, skin reactions, or inflammation of the lungs, liver, or colon
  • Reactions to the medication infusion, such as chills, rash, flushing, difficulty breathing, dizziness, fever, back/neck pain, facial swelling

If you experience any side effects that may be life-threatening, call 9-1-1 right away.

These are not all the possible side effects of Libtayo. Talk to your doctor about what to expect or if you experience any changes that concern you during treatment with Libtayo.

Other things to know

Libtayo can affect your immune system and cause it to attack normal organs and tissues. These problems may become severe or life-threatening. Before taking Libtayo, tell your doctor if you have:3

  • Immune system problems, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or lupus
  • Had an organ transplant
  • Lung or breathing problems
  • Liver or kidney problems
  • Diabetes

Libtayo can harm an unborn baby. If you can become pregnant, use birth control during treatment and for some time after the last dose of Libtayo. You should also not breastfeed during treatment with Libtayo and for some time after the last dose. Talk to your doctor about your options for birth control and breastfeeding while taking Libtayo.1

Before beginning treatment for lung cancer, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Libayo.