Imfinzi is a brand-name prescription medication that’s used to treat certain types of lung cancer and bladder cancer in adults. Specifically, Imfinzi is FDA-approved for:

  • Urothelial cancer (cancer affecting the lining of the bladder and urinary tract). Imfinzi treats urothelial cancer that:
    • is locally advanced (spread into the bladder wall) or metastatic (spread to other parts of the body)
    • has progressed (gotten worse) during or after treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy
  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This is the most common type of lung cancer. Imfinzi treats NSCLC that is:
    • stage 3 (has spread to nearby tissues in the chest)
    • unresectable (can’t be removed with surgery)
    • stable or improved after you’ve had combined treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC). SCLC is less common and typically more aggressive than NSCLC. Imfinzi is used as a first treatment for extensive-stage SCLC. (This means the cancer has spread widely throughout the lungs and chest or to other parts of the body.) For this purpose, Imfinzi is used with etoposide and either carboplatin or cisplatin. These are chemotherapy drugs.

Imfinzi is an immunotherapy treatment for these types of cancer. It helps your immune system attack the cancer. Imfinzi belongs to a class of drugs called PD-L1 inhibitors.

Imfinzi comes as a liquid solution in single-dose vials. It’s given as an intravenous (IV) infusion. With IV infusions, the drug is slowly injected into a vein over a certain period of time.

Imfinzi infusions typically take 1 hour. You’ll have the treatment at your doctor’s office or in a hospital or infusion center.

Imfinzi contains the active drug durvalumab.

FDA approval

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Imfinzi for urothelial cancer in 2017. For this use, Imfinzi received accelerated approval from the FDA.

Accelerated approval is based on promising results from early clinical studies. Imfinzi was studied in people with no other treatment options for their urothelial cancer. This type of cancer was shown to respond to Imfinzi, but it’s not yet known if the drug improves survival rates.

The FDA’s decision for full approval of Imfinzi for urothelial cancer will be made after additional clinical trials are completed.

Imfinzi received full FDA approval for NSCLC in 2018 and for SCLC in 2020. The drug was shown to improve survival rates in people with these types of cancer.

Effectiveness

For information on the effectiveness of Imfinzi, see the “Imfinzi uses” section below.

Imfinzi is available only as a brand-name medication. It’s a biologic drug. Biologic drugs are made using living cells. Imfinzi isn’t currently available in biosimilar form, which is a very similar version of the parent brand-name biologic drug. A generic drug, on the other hand, is an exact copy of a brand-name drug that’s made from chemicals.

It’s not possible for drug companies to produce exact copies of biologics. But biosimilars are made to treat the same conditions as their parent drug. And they’re considered to be as safe and effective as the parent drug. And like generics, biosimilars tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

Imfinzi contains the active drug durvalumab.

Imfinzi can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Imfinzi. These lists don’t include all possible side effects. Side effects may differ slightly between people with lung cancer and people with bladder cancer.

For more information on the possible side effects of Imfinzi, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to deal with any side effects that may be bothersome.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs it has approved. If you would like to report to the FDA a side effect you’ve had with Imfinzi, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild side effects

Mild side effects of Imfinzi can include:*

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* This is a partial list of mild side effects from Imfinzi. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or visit Imfinzi’s Medication Guide.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Imfinzi can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

  • Allergic reaction.*
  • Severe immune system reactions.*
  • Severe or life threatening reactions to the infusion.*
  • Serious infections, such as pneumonia. Symptoms can include:
    • fever
    • cough
    • flu-like symptoms

If you have serious side effects, your doctor may have you temporarily stop your Imfinzi treatment. Or they may have you permanently stop using Imfinzi and switch to a different treatment.

* For more information on these side effects, see “Side effect details” below.

Side effect details

You may wonder how often certain side effects occur with this drug. Here’s some detail on certain side effects this drug may cause.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Imfinzi. Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (warmth and redness in your skin)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:

  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
  • trouble breathing

Call your doctor right away if you have a severe allergic reaction to Imfinzi. Call 911 or your local emergency phone number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects from immune system reactions

Some serious side effects can happen if your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in your body. This can cause inflammation (swelling or damage) in any part of your body.

In rare cases, these side effects can be fatal. In clinical studies, they led to death in less than 0.1% of people taking Imfinzi.

Imfinzi may cause the following serious side effects due to immune system reactions:

  • Hepatitis (inflammation in your liver). Symptoms can include:
    • severe nausea or vomiting
    • pain on the right side of your abdomen (belly)
    • jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes)
    • unusually dark urine
    • unusually pale stools
    • fatigue
    • bruising or bleeding more easily than usual
  • Colitis (inflammation in your bowel). Symptoms can include:
    • diarrhea
    • blood or mucus in your stools (blood may appear black or tarry)
    • severe abdominal (belly) pain
  • Nephritis (inflammation in your kidneys), which can lead to kidney failure. Symptoms can include:
    • urinating less than usual
    • blood in your urine
    • swollen ankles
    • decreased appetite
  • Hormone problems, such as thyroid, adrenal, or pituitary gland disorders. Symptoms can include:
    • weight gain or weight loss
    • constipation or diarrhea
    • feeling cold or hot
    • feeling unusually tired or lacking energy
    • dizziness or fainting
    • hair loss
    • headache
  • Type 1 diabetes. Symptoms can include:
    • urinating more often than usual
    • feeling more thirsty or hungry than usual
    • feeling unusually tired or lacking energy
    • weight loss
  • Severe skin reactions. Symptoms can include:
    • rash
    • blistering
    • itching
  • Inflammation (swelling or damage) in other organs, including your eyes, heart, nerves, or brain. It can also affect your joints, muscles, and blood vessels.
  • Pneumonitis (inflammation in your lungs). See the next section for more information.

Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about your risk for any of these side effects.

Pneumonitis

In some people, Imfinzi treatment can lead to the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy cells in the body. Pneumonitis (inflammation in your lungs) is one side effect that can happen if this occurs in your lungs. It can be life threatening.

Across clinical studies in people with different types of cancer, pneumonitis occurred in 5% of people treated with Imfinzi.

Pneumonitis is a common side effect of radiation therapy for the lungs. In a clinical study:

Symptoms of pneumonitis include new or worsening shortness of breath, cough, or chest pain. If you have these symptoms, see your doctor right away. Your doctor may order a chest X-ray.

If you have pneumonitis, you may need treatment with corticosteroids (drugs that reduce swelling). An example of a common corticosteroid is prednisone (Rayos).

If you get pneumonitis, your doctor may also have you temporarily stop your Imfinzi treatment. Or they may have you permanently stop using Imfinzi and switch to a different treatment.

Rash

A rash is possible during treatment with Imfinzi. In some people, Imfinzi can lead to the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy cells in the body. This can cause dermatitis (skin inflammation) if this occurs in your skin. Symptoms can include dryness, swelling, and itching. In people with lighter skin tones, dermatitis may appear red. In people with darker skin tones, it may appear purple, gray, or dark brown.

Imfinzi can also cause more serious skin reactions, with symptoms such as a severe or widespread skin rash, blistering, peeling, and itching.

Across clinical studies in people with different types of cancer, immune-related skin rash or dermatitis occurred in 26% of people treated with Imfinzi. In people who received a placebo or a treatment other than Imfinzi, 6% to 12% of people reported a rash. (The exact percentage varied depending on the condition being treated and the treatment they used.)

See your doctor if you have a skin rash during your Imfinzi treatment. Depending on how severe the rash is, you may need treatment with corticosteroids such as prednisone. For a severe rash, your doctor may have you temporarily stop your Imfinzi treatment. Or they may have you permanently stop using Imfinzi and switch to a different treatment.

A rash can also be cause by an infusion reaction. See the section below to learn more.

Infusion reactions

A skin rash can also be a symptom of an infusion-related reaction. This is a reaction that occurs during or shortly after you receive a drug by intravenous (IV) infusion. (With IV infusions, the drug is slowly injected into a vein over a certain period of time.)

Across clinical studies in people with different types of cancer, infusion-related reactions occurred in 2.2% of people treated with Imfinzi. It’s not known how often this side effect occurred in people using other treatments.

Symptoms of an infusion reaction can include:

  • flushing
  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling of your face
  • rash or itching
  • fever
  • shivering

If you have an infusion-related reaction, your infusion may need to be slowed down or stopped. Depending on how severe your reaction is, you may have your next infusion more slowly over a longer period of time. You may also be given other medications before the infusion to reduce the risk of a reaction.

If you have a very severe reaction, your doctor may have you permanently stop using Imfinzi and switch to a different treatment.

Hair loss

Some people may have some hair loss with Imfinzi treatment. It’s important to note that hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Imfinzi isn’t a type of chemotherapy, but it may be used with chemotherapy drugs.

In clinical studies, hair loss was only reported in people being treated for small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

In these studies:

  • 31% of people who used Imfinzi with chemotherapy for SCLC had hair loss
  • 34% of those who had chemotherapy alone for SCLC had hair loss

In the studies, it’s not known whether hair loss was directly caused by Imfinzi.

Hair loss can also be related to certain hormone problems that can be a side effect of Imfinzi. For example, hair loss can be a symptom of low thyroid hormone levels.

In clinical studies:

It’s not known how often this side effect occurred in people with bladder cancer or SCLC who received treatments other than Imfinzi.

If you’re concerned about hair loss during your Imfinzi treatment, talk with your doctor. They may check to see if your hair loss is related to hormonal problems. If needed, they can prescribe treatment to help regulate your hormone levels.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Imfinzi to treat certain conditions. Imfinzi may also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label use is when a drug that’s approved to treat one condition is used to treat a different condition.

Imfinzi for non-small cell lung cancer

Imfinzi is FDA-approved to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in adults. NSCLC is the most common form of lung cancer. Imfinzi treats NSCLC that is:

  • stage 3 (has spread into nearby tissues in the chest)
  • unresectable (can’t be removed with surgery)
  • stable or improved after combined treatment with radiotherapy and platinum-based chemotherapy (such as cisplatin or carboplatin)

Imfinzi is an immunotherapy treatment. It helps your immune system attack cancer cells.

Effectiveness for NSCLC

In a clinical study, Imfinzi was found effective for treating NSCLC. The study involved 713 people with stage 3 NSCLC. Some people were treated with Imfinzi for up to 12 months. The others were treated with a placebo (a treatment with no active drug).

In this study:

  • of the people treated with Imfinzi, at least half of them lived for 16.8 months or more without their cancer progressing
  • of the people treated with placebo, at least half of them lived for 5.6 months or more without their cancer progressing

Also in the study:

  • people using Imfinzi were 48% less likely to die while being treated or to have their cancer progress than people using a placebo
  • after a period of 46 months, 62% of people treated with Imfinzi were still alive, compared with 51% of people treated with placebo

It’s important to note that drug results can vary from person to person.

Imfinzi for small cell lung cancer

Imfinzi is FDA-approved to treat small cell lung cancer (SCLC). This form of lung cancer is less common and typically more aggressive than NSCLC.

Imfinzi is used as a first treatment for extensive-stage SCLC. This means the cancer has spread widely throughout the lungs and chest, or to other parts of the body. For this purpose, Imfinzi is used with etoposide and either carboplatin or cisplatin. These are chemotherapy drugs.

Imfinzi is an immunotherapy treatment. It helps your immune system attack cancer cells.

Effectiveness for SCLC

In a clinical study, Imfinzi was found effective for treating SCLC. The study involved 537 people with extensive-stage SCLC. Some people were treated with Imfinzi and chemotherapy (etoposide and either carboplatin or cisplatin). The others were treated with chemotherapy alone (etoposide and either carboplatin or cisplatin).

In this study:

  • of the people treated with Imfinzi and chemotherapy, at least half of them lived for 13 months or longer
  • of the people treated with chemotherapy alone, at least half of them lived for 10.3 months or longer

People using Imfinzi and chemotherapy were 27% less likely to die while being treated than people using chemotherapy alone.

It’s important to note that drug results can vary from person to person.

Imfinzi for bladder cancer

Imfinzi is FDA-approved to treat a type of bladder cancer called urothelial cancer. This form of bladder cancer starts in urothelial cells, which are cells that line your bladder and urinary tract. Your urinary tract carries urine from your kidneys through tubes called ureters, into the urethra, and out of your body.

Imfinzi treats urothelial cancer that:

  • is locally advanced (has spread into the bladder wall) or metastatic (has spread to other parts of the body)
  • had progressed (gotten worse) either during or after treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy (such as cisplatin or carboplatin)
  • has progressed within 12 months of adjuvant* or neoadjuvant* treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy

Imfinzi is an immunotherapy treatment. It helps your immune system attack cancer cells.

* Neoadjuvant treatment is used to shrink tumors before the main treatment. Adjuvant treatment is an add-on therapy.

Effectiveness for bladder cancer

It’s not yet known if Imfinzi improves survival rates in people with bladder cancer. Ongoing studies are investigating this.

In a clinical study, bladder cancer was shown to respond to Imfinzi treatment. The study involved 182 people with locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer whose cancer had gotten worse after having platinum-based chemotherapy. Imfinzi wasn’t compared with any other treatments in this study.

In the study, 17% of people treated with Imfinzi had their cancer improve.

Of the people taking Imfinzi who had their cancer improve:

  • 16% had a complete response to Imfinzi, which means tests showed no more cancer in their blood
  • 84% had a partial response to Imfinzi, which means their cancer improved but didn’t go away completely

In addition, of those who took Imfinzi and had their cancer improve:

  • 45% were still responding to Imfinzi after 6 months
  • 16% were still responding to Imfinzi after 12 months

It’s important to note that drug results can vary from person to person.

Off-label use for Imfinzi

In addition to the uses listed above, Imfinzi may be used off-label for other purposes. Off-label drug use is when a drug that’s approved for one or more uses is prescribed for a different one that’s not approved. Below is an example of an off-label use for Imfinzi.

Imfinzi for head and neck cancer

Imfinzi isn’t FDA-approved to treat head and neck cancer. However, there are several studies being done to test the effectiveness of Imfinzi for treating this type of cancer.

In one study, Imfinzi was compared with standard treatment for head and neck cancer. (Standard treatment involved using a drug called cetuximab with chemotherapy.) Imfinzi was used either alone or with an experimental immunotherapy treatment called tremelimumab.

Results from this study found that:

  • 37% of people who took Imfinzi were still alive after 12 months of treatment
  • 30.4% of people who took Imfinzi with tremelimumab were still alive after 12 months of treatment
  • 30.5% of people who took standard treatment were still alive after 12 months of treatment

However, overall survival rates weren’t significantly different between the three groups. It’s also important to note that drug results can vary from person to person.

Results from other ongoing studies will help establish whether Imfinzi is an effective treatment for head and neck cancer.

Imfinzi and children

Imfinzi isn’t approved for use in children. It’s not known if the drug is safe or effective for treating cancer in children.

The safety of Imfinzi for use in children with cancer is currently being studied. However, much more research is needed before we’ll know if it could help treat cancers that affect children.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Imfinzi.

How long does Imfinzi stay in your system?

Imfinzi stays in your system for about 3 months after your last dose. The drug is slowly broken down by your body over this time.

For what length of time can you take Imfinzi?

If you and your doctor think that Imfinzi is safe and effective for you, you can keep taking it for as long as it continues to work for your cancer. However, for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), Imfinzi is approved to be used for up to 1 year only.

How long Imfinzi will work for you depends on various factors. These include the type and stage of cancer you have, whether you get certain side effects, other treatments you may have, and your overall health.

Is Imfinzi chemotherapy?

No, Imfinzi isn’t chemotherapy. It’s a type of treatment called immunotherapy.

Chemotherapy works by directly killing cancer cells in the body that are multiplying rapidly. Immunotherapy, on the other hand, works by helping your immune system attack cancer cells.

Will Imfinzi cure my condition?

No, Imfinzi won’t cure your cancer. There’s currently no known cure for cancer. However, Imfinzi can help extend the length of time you live without your cancer getting worse.

In clinical studies, a small number of people with bladder cancer had a complete response to Imfinzi. (A complete response is when tests show no more cancer in your blood.) However, it’s important to note that a complete response doesn’t necessarily mean the cancer is cured. It’s still possible for cancer to come back after a complete response.

Talk with your doctor if you have questions about how Imfinzi treats your cancer.

You may wonder how Imfinzi compares with other medications that are prescribed for similar uses. Here we look at how Imfinzi and Keytruda are alike and different.

Ingredients

Imfinzi contains the active drug durvalumab, and Keytruda contains pembrolizumab. Both are immunotherapy drugs that help your immune system attack cancer cells.

Uses

Here is a list of conditions that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Imfinzi and Keytruda to treat.

Drug forms and administration

Imfinzi and Keytruda both come as a liquid solution that’s given by intravenous (IV) infusion. With an IV infusion, the drug is injected into a vein over a period of time. Imfinzi infusions typically last 1 hour, while Keytruda infusions usually last 30 minutes.

Imfinzi infusions are typically given once every 2, 3, or 4 weeks. Keytruda infusions are usually given once every 3 or 6 weeks.

Both of these drugs are given by your doctor or another healthcare provider.

Side effects and risks

Imfinzi and Keytruda have some similar side effects and others that vary. Below are examples of these side effects.

Mild side effects

This list contains up to 10 of the most common mild side effects that can occur with both Imfinzi and Keytruda (when taken individually).

  • Can occur with both Imfinzi and Keytruda:
    • pain in your muscles or bones
    • constipation
    • diarrhea
    • nausea
    • decreased appetite
    • rash
    • cough
    • shortness of breath

Serious side effects

These lists contain examples of serious side effects that can occur with Imfinzi, with Keytruda, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

  • Can occur with Imfinzi:
  • Can occur with Keytruda:
    • few unique serious side effects
  • Can occur with both Imfinzi and Keytruda:
    • hepatitis (inflammation in your liver)
    • colitis (inflammation in your bowel)
    • nephritis (inflammation in your kidneys), which can lead to kidney failure
    • inflammation (swelling or damage) in other organs, such as your eyes, heart, nerves, brain, joints, muscles, and blood vessels
    • severe skin reactions
    • severe or life threatening reactions to the infusion

Effectiveness

These drugs haven’t been directly compared in clinical studies. However, separate studies have found both Imfinzi and Keytruda to be effective in treating certain types of bladder cancer, NSCLC, and SCLC.

Costs

To compare prices for Imfinzi and Keytruda, check out GoodRx.com. The actual price you’ll pay for either drug depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Imfinzi and Keytruda are both brand-name drugs. They are both biologic drugs that aren’t currently available in generic or biosimilar form.

Biologic drugs are made using living cells. It’s not possible for drug companies to produce exact copies of these drugs. On the other hand, a generic drug is an exact copy of a brand-name drug that’s made from chemicals.

A biosimilar drug is a very similar version of the parent brand-name biologic drug. However, it’s not identical. Biosimilar drugs are made to treat the same conditions as their parent drug. They are considered to be as safe and effective as the parent drug. Biosimilars tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

The Imfinzi dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:

  • the type of cancer you’re using Imfinzi to treat
  • your body weight (doses are determined by your weight in kilograms, such as 10 mg per kg)
  • other medical conditions you may have
  • if you get certain side effects

The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

Drug forms and strengths

Imfinzi comes as a liquid solution in single-dose vials. It’s available in one strength: 50 milligrams (mg) per milliliter (mL). Imfinzi vials are available in two sizes:

  • 2.4 mL, which holds 120 mg of drug
  • 10 mL, which holds 500 mg of drug

Imfinzi is given as an intravenous (IV) infusion. With IV infusions, the drug is slowly injected into a vein over a certain period of time.

Imfinzi infusions typically take 1 hour. You’ll have the treatment at your doctor’s office or in a hospital or infusion center.

Dosage for non-small cell lung cancer

The recommended dosage of Imfinzi for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is 10 mg per kg of body weight. This is given by IV infusion once every 2 weeks.

Dosage for small cell lung cancer

For small cell lung cancer (SCLC), the first four doses of Imfinzi are given along with chemotherapy. After four cycles, you’ll receive Imfinzi on its own. The recommended dosage of Imfinzi is the same whether you receive it with or without chemotherapy.

The recommended dosage in people weighing more than 66 lb (30 kg) is 1,500 mg. The recommended dosage in people weighing 66 lb (30 kg) or less is 20 mg per kg of body weight.

The dosage is given by IV infusion once every 3 weeks, for four cycles. For these first four cycles, you’ll also have chemotherapy on the same days that you have Imfinzi. After the first four cycles, you’ll receive Imfinzi on its own once every 4 weeks.

Dosage for bladder cancer

The recommended dosage for urothelial cancer, which can affect the bladder, is 10 mg per kg of body weight. This is given by IV infusion once every 2 weeks.

What if I miss a dose?

It’s important to keep your appointments for your Imfinzi infusions. If you miss an appointment, call your doctor’s office right away to reschedule.

To help make sure you don’t miss an appointment, try setting a reminder on your phone.

Will I need to use this drug long term?

Imfinzi is meant to be used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Imfinzi is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term.

For non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), Imfinzi is approved to be used for a maximum of 1 year. If you’re using Imfinzi for other types of cancer, talk with your doctor about how long you may take this drug.

Imfinzi is given as an intravenous (IV) infusion. With IV infusions, the drug is slowly injected into a vein over a certain period of time.

You’ll receive Imfinzi at your doctor’s office or in a hospital or infusion center. Imfinzi infusions typically take 1 hour.

How often Imfinzi is given

For bladder cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), Imfinzi is usually given once every 2 weeks.

For small cell lung cancer (SCLC), Imfinzi is typically given once every 3 weeks, for four cycles. After that, it’s given once every 4 weeks.

To help make sure you don’t miss an appointment to have your infusion, try setting a reminder on your phone.

Like Keytruda (above), Tecentriq has uses similar to those of Imfinzi. Here’s a comparison of how Imfinzi and Tecentriq are alike and different.

Ingredients

Imfinzi contains the active drug durvalumab, and Tecentriq contains atezolizumab. Both are immunotherapy drugs that help your immune system attack cancer cells.

Uses

Here is a list of conditions that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Imfinzi and Tecentriq to treat.

Drug forms and administration

Imfinzi and Tecentriq both come as a liquid solution that’s given by intravenous (IV) infusion. With an IV infusion, the drug is injected into a vein over a certain period of time.

Imfinzi infusions typically last 60 minutes, while Tecentriq infusions usually last 30 to 60 minutes. Both Imfinzi and Tecentriq infusions are typically given once every 2, 3, or 4 weeks.

Both of these drugs are given by your doctor or another healthcare provider.

Side effects and risks

Imfinzi and Tecentriq have some similar side effects and other that vary. Below are examples of these side effects.

Mild side effects

These lists contain up to 10 of the most common mild side effects that can occur with Imfinzi, with Tecentriq, or with both Imfinzi and Tecentriq (when taken individually).

  • Can occur with Imfinzi:
    • pain in your muscles or bones
    • rash
  • Can occur with Tecentriq:
    • hair loss
    • headache
  • Can occur with both Imfinzi and Tecentriq:
    • cough
    • shortness of breath
    • nausea
    • constipation
    • diarrhea
    • decreased appetite

Serious side effects

This list contains examples of serious side effects that can occur with both Imfinzi and Tecentriq (when taken individually).

  • pneumonitis (inflammation in your lungs)
  • hepatitis (inflammation in your liver)
  • colitis (inflammation in your bowel)
  • nephritis (inflammation in your kidneys), which can lead to kidney failure
  • inflammation (swelling or damage) in other organs, such as your eyes, heart, nerves, brain, joints, muscles, and blood vessels
  • hormone problems, such as thyroid, adrenal, or pituitary gland disorders
  • type 1 diabetes
  • severe skin reactions
  • severe or life threatening reactions to the infusion
  • serious infections, such as pneumonia
  • allergic reaction

Effectiveness

These drugs haven’t been directly compared in clinical studies. However, separate studies have found both Imfinzi and Tecentriq to be effective for treating certain types of bladder cancer, NSCLC, and SCLC.

Costs

To compare prices for Imfinzi and Tecentriq, talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company. The actual price you’ll pay for either drug depends on your insurance plan, your location, and if applicable, the pharmacy you use.

Imfinzi and Tecentriq are both brand-name drugs. They are both biologic drugs that aren’t currently available in generic or biosimilar form.

Biologic drugs are made using living cells. It’s not possible for drug companies to produce exact copies of these drugs. On the other hand, a generic drug is an exact copy of a brand-name drug that’s made from chemicals.

A biosimilar drug is a very similar version of the parent brand-name biologic drug. However, it’s not identical. Biosimilar drugs are made to treat the same conditions as their parent drug. They are considered to be as safe and effective as the parent drug. Biosimilars tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

Imfinzi is called an immunotherapy drug. Immunotherapy drugs help your immune system attack cancer cells.

Other drugs are available that can treat your condition. Some may be a better fit for you than others. If you’re interested in finding an alternative to Imfinzi, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that may work well for you.

Alternatives for non-small cell lung cancer

Examples of other immunotherapy drugs that may be used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) include:

Alternatives for small cell lung cancer

Examples of other immunotherapy drugs that may be used to treat small cell lung cancer (SCLC) include:

  • atezolizumab (Tecentriq)
  • ipilimumab (Yervoy)
  • nivolumab (Opdivo)
  • pembrolizumab (Keytruda)

Alternatives for bladder cancer

Examples of other immunotherapy drugs that may be used to treat bladder cancer include:

  • atezolizumab (Tecentriq)
  • avelumab (Bavencio)
  • nivolumab (Opdivo)
  • pembrolizumab (Keytruda)

For small cell lung cancer (SCLC), Imfinzi is approved for use with etoposide and either carboplatin or cisplatin. These are chemotherapy drugs. (When Imfinzi is used to treat bladder cancer or non-small cell lung cancer, it’s used alone.)

During your first four cycles of treatment for SCLC, you’ll receive chemotherapy on the same day as your Imfinzi infusion, once every 3 weeks. You’ll have your Imfinzi infusion first, followed by the chemotherapy. After the first four cycles, you’ll receive Imfinzi on its own.

It’s important to note that in clinical trials of SCLC, 4.9% of people who took Imfinzi with chemotherapy experienced a side effect that led to death. Examples of these side effects include pulmonary embolism, liver damage, and sepsis. It isn’t known what role, if any, Imfinzi had in causing these side effects, or if they could have been caused by the chemotherapy drugs.

Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about your risk for developing serious side effects during your Imfinzi treatment.

Imfinzi isn’t known to interact with alcohol. However, if you get certain side effects with Imfinzi, drinking alcohol could make them worse. Examples of these side effects include fatigue (lack of energy) and nausea.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much is safe for you to drink while during your Imfinzi treatment.

Different drug interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some interactions can interfere with how well a drug works. Other interactions can increase side effects or make them more severe.

Imfinzi and other medications

Imfinzi isn’t known to interact with other medications. However, before taking Imfinzi, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Imfinzi and herbs and supplements

There aren’t any herbs or supplements that have been specifically reported to interact with Imfinzi. However, you should still check with your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these products while taking Imfinzi.

Imfinzi and foods

There aren’t any foods that have been specifically reported to interact with Imfinzi. If you have any questions about eating certain foods with Imfinzi, talk with your doctor.

As with all medications, the cost of Imfinzi can vary. To find current prices for Imfinzi in your area, check out GoodRx.com.

The cost you find on GoodRx.com is what you may pay without insurance. The actual price you’ll pay depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

It’s important to note that you may have to get Imfinzi at a specialty pharmacy. This type of pharmacy is authorized to carry specialty medications. These are drugs that may be expensive or may require help from healthcare professionals to be used safely and effectively.

Before approving coverage for Imfinzi, your insurance company may require you to get prior authorization. This means that your doctor and insurance company will need to communicate about your prescription before the insurance company will cover the drug. The insurance company will review the prior authorization request and decide if the drug will be covered.

If you’re not sure if you’ll need to get prior authorization for Imfinzi, contact your insurance company.

Financial and insurance assistance

If you need financial support to pay for Imfinzi, or if you need help understanding your insurance coverage, help is available.

AstraZeneca, the manufacturer of Imfinzi, offers a program called Access 360. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible for support, call 844-ASK-A360 (844-275-2360) or visit the program website.

Biosimilar version

Imfinzi is a biologic drug. It’s not currently available in biosimilar form.

Biologic drugs are made using living cells. It’s not possible for drug companies to produce exact copies of these drugs. A biosimilar drug is a very similar version of the parent brand-name biologic drug. However, it’s not identical.

Biosimilar drugs are made to treat the same conditions as their parent drug. They are considered to be as safe and effective as the parent drug. Biosimilars tend to cost less than their brand-name drugs.

Imfinzi is FDA-approved to treat certain types of lung cancer and bladder cancer in adults.

What happens in lung and bladder cancer

Cancer occurs when cells in your body develop a genetic change that makes them start to grow and multiply uncontrollably. Your immune system usually notices these abnormal cells and quickly attacks and destroys them. However, some cancer cells develop certain genetic changes that make them more able to survive.

With certain types of lung cancer and bladder cancer, the cancerous cells have developed a way of hiding themselves from your immune system. These cancer cells produce a protein called programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1) on their surface.

The PD-L1 protein is found on the surface of healthy cells. It’s known as an immune checkpoint because it marks healthy cells to stop your immune system from attacking them. When cancer cells have this protein on their surface, it hides them from your immune system. This allows the cancer cells to grow, multiply, and spread without your immune system stopping them.

What Imfinzi does

Imfinzi is a type of drug called an immune checkpoint inhibitor. It works by attaching to the PD-L1 protein and blocking it. This allows your immune system to find and destroy the cancer cells. It can help shrink the tumor in your lung or bladder.

How long does it take to work?

Imfinzi starts to work as soon as you have your first treatment. However, you’re unlikely to feel it working in your body. This is because it shrinks your tumor, but it may not relieve the symptoms of your cancer.

Your doctor will order various tests throughout your treatment to check that Imfinzi is working for you.

Imfinzi isn’t safe to take during pregnancy. Although it hasn’t been studied in pregnant women, the way this drug works could cause your immune system to attack a fetus. Studies of Imfinzi in pregnant animals found the drug could cause miscarriage and stillbirth.

If you could become pregnant, your doctor will give you a pregnancy test before you start Imfinzi. This allows your doctor to be sure that you’re not pregnant before you start treatment. You should use an effective form of birth control during your Imfinzi treatment. See the section below called “Imfinzi and birth control” for more details.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor before starting Imfinzi. They will likely recommend a medication other than Imfinzi to treat your cancer.

Imfinzi is not safe to take during pregnancy. If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while you’re using Imfinzi.

For more information about taking Imfinzi during pregnancy, see the “Imfinzi and pregnancy” section above.

For women using Imfinzi

If you could become pregnant, you should use an effective form of birth control while you’re having treatment with Imfinzi. This could include using condoms or birth control pills, patches, or injections. You should continue using birth control for least 3 months after your last dose of Imfinzi.

For men using Imfinzi

The manufacturer of Imfinzi hasn’t stated whether men having Imfinzi need to use birth control. If you’re sexually active with a partner who could become pregnant, talk with your doctor about whether you need to use birth control during your Imfinzi treatment.

It’s not known if Imfinzi passes into breast milk or if it affects breast milk production. However, it’s possible that Imfinzi could cause serious side effects in a breastfed child. Therefore, you should avoid breastfeeding while taking this drug and for at least 3 months after your last dose.

If you’re currently breastfeeding, talk with your doctor about the best way to feed your child during your Imfinzi treatment.

This drug comes with several precautions. Before taking Imfinzi, talk with your doctor about your health history. Imfinzi may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. These include:

  • Autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in your body. Examples of these conditions include Crohn’s disease and lupus. Imfinzi treatment can sometimes cause your immune system to attack healthy cells in your body. Therefore, it could worsen an autoimmune disease. If you have an autoimmune disease, talk with your doctor about whether Imfinzi is right for you.
  • History of organ transplant. Imfinzi can cause your body to react and attack certain organs, including your heart, lung, liver, or kidney. If you’ve received an organ transplant, be sure to tell your doctor before you take Imfinzi.
  • Breathing or liver problems. Side effects of Imfinzi can include damage to your lungs or liver. If you have a history of breathing or liver problems, talk with your doctor before taking Imfinzi.
  • Being treated for an infection. Imfinzi shouldn’t be started until certain infections have completely cleared. Make sure you tell your doctor if you’re being treated for an active infection before you start taking Imfinzi.
  • Pregnancy. Imfinzi isn’t safe to take during pregnancy. For more information, see the “Imfinzi and pregnancy” section above.
  • Breastfeeding. Imfinzi isn’t safe to take while breastfeeding. For more information, see the “Imfinzi and breastfeeding” section above.

Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Imfinzi, see the “Imfinzi side effects” section above.

The following information is provided for clinicians and other healthcare professionals.

Indications

Imfinzi is FDA-approved to treat the following types of cancer in adults:

  • Locally-advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer. Imfinzi is approved for people whose disease has progressed:
    • within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy
  • Unresectable stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Imfinzi is approved for people whose disease is stable or improved after combined treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
  • Extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC). Imfinzi is approved for first-line use in combination with etoposide and either carboplatin or cisplatin.

Administration

Imfinzi is given by intravenous infusion over approximately 60 minutes.

Mechanism of action

Imfinzi is a form of immunotherapy containing durvalumab, a monoclonal antibody that blocks programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1).

PD-L1 is a protein that’s overexpressed by cancer cells as an adaptive response to hide the cancer cells from the immune system. PD-L1 interacts with PD-L1 receptors on cytotoxic T cells. It stops the activation and proliferation of the cytotoxic T cells, and reduces their production of cytokines. This inhibits the normal immune response to the cancer cells, allowing them to grow and spread unchecked.

Durvalumab binds to PD-L1 on the cancer cells, which blocks the protein from interacting with PD-1 receptors on cytotoxic T cells. This restores normal T-cell response to the cancer cells.

Pharmacokinetics and metabolism

Imfinzi steady state is reached after approximately 16 weeks of dosing once every 2, 3, or 4 weeks. Imfinzi has a mean terminal half-life of approximately 18 days.

Age, body weight, sex, race, mild to moderate renal impairment, and mild hepatic impairment do not affect the pharmacokinetics of Imfinzi. The effect of severe renal impairment and moderate to severe hepatic impairment are not known.

Contraindications

There are no contraindications to Imfinzi use. However, certain treatment-related immune-mediated toxicities may require Imfinzi to be discontinued permanently.

Storage

Imfinzi vials should be stored in a refrigerator at a temperature of 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C) in their original packaging. Protect from light. Do not shake or freeze vials.

Do not use Imfinzi after the expiration date printed on the vial.

Vials are for single-use only. Dispose of any drug remaining after use.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today 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 other 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.