Skin Cancer Home > Yervoy

Yervoy is prescribed to treat a type of skin cancer called melanoma. This drug is only used when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body or cannot be treated surgically. It comes as an intravenous injection that is administered by your healthcare provider every three weeks for up to four doses. Possible side effects include diarrhea, fatigue, and a rash.

What Is Yervoy?

Yervoy™ (ipilimumab) is a prescription medication approved to treat melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer, when it has spread to other areas of the body (metastasized) or cannot be removed with surgery. It belongs to a group of medicines called monoclonal antibodies.
(Click Yervoy Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Yervoy is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

How Does Yervoy Work?

An antibody (also known as an immunoglobulin) is a protein made by the immune system. Antibodies bind to substances in the body called antigens. Yervoy is a synthetic antibody that binds to and blocks the actions of an antigen called the cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4).
CTLA-4 normally inhibits T cells (also called T-lymphocytes), a type of white blood cell that protects the body against disease by destroying infected cells, including cancer cells. By inhibiting T cells, CTLA-4 slows down the immune system's ability to attack cancerous cells. When CTLA-4 is blocked by Yervoy, T cells increase in number and become active, giving the body a better chance at fighting melanoma cancer cells.

Clinical Effects

In a clinical study, Yervoy was shown to extend survival in people with late-stage melanoma who had stopped responding to other anticancer treatments. In this study, people were randomly given one of three treatments: Yervoy with an experimental vaccine, Yervoy alone, or the experimental vaccine alone.
People who received Yervoy and the vaccine or Yervoy alone lived an average of 10 months after starting treatment. In comparison, people who received just the experimental vaccine lived an average of 6.5 months.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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