What is Herzuma® (trastuzumab-pkrb)?
Herzuma® (trastuzumab-pkrb) is an engineered biologic medication that is “biosimilar” to Herceptin®. Biosimilar medications are approved based on the similarity of their action to approved medications.
Herzuma may be used in certain patients with HER2+ breast cancer, to be used either alone or in combination with other medicines. HER2+ breast cancer is characterized by tumors that overproduce a specific molecule known as human epidermal growth factor receptor-2, or HER2.
Herzuma can be used against metastatic breast cancer or as adjuvant therapy after initial breast cancer treatment.1 Metastatic breast cancer refers to advanced breast cancer that has already spread to other parts of the body. Adjuvant therapy attempts to keep cancer from recurring after initial treatment, like surgery.2 Herzuma is not available in generic forms.
What are the ingredients in Herzuma?
The active ingredient in Herzuma is trastuzumab-pkrb.3
How does Herzuma work?
Herzuma is one of several monoclonal antibodies used to treat breast cancer. Our bodies naturally produce antibodies, which are immune factors that act against bacteria, viruses, and other foreign organisms that invade and pose a threat to our health. Drugmakers have engineered a variety of antibodies to target the mechanisms that cause certain diseases, including breast cancer.4
Certain breast cancer cells have large numbers of molecules called human epidermal growth factor receptor-2, or HER2, on their cell surfaces. These molecules stimulate abnormally fast cell growth. Like Herceptin, Herzuma binds to and blocks these molecules, also killing the cancerous cells that carry them.
What are the possible side effects of Herzuma?
Common side effects with Herzuma include1:
- Congestive heart failure
In some patients, Herzuma can cause more harmful side effects. These include worsening of chemotherapy-induced reductions in white blood cells, serious heart problems, life-threatening reactions to infusion, and severe lung damage.5
Herzuma has been shown to harm fetuses, so it is important not to become pregnant or breastfeed while taking Herzuma. Women who can become pregnant who receive Herzuma should use birth control during their treatment and for seven months after treatment with Herzuma is completed (patients should discuss appropriate birth control methods with their doctor). Herzuma has not been tested or approved in children.5
This is not an exhaustive list of all potential side effects of Herzuma. For more information, consult your doctor or healthcare provider. If you notice any new or worsening side effects, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately.
Things to note about Herzuma
Before taking Herzuma, tell your doctor about all your health conditions, including if you:5:
- Are allergic to trastuzumab or mouse proteins
- Have or have had heart disease
- Are being treated with radiation therapy to the chest or with other chemotherapy medicines, since some medications don’t mix well with Herzuma
- Have or have had lung disease, a tumor in your lungs, or difficulty breathing
- Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant or are breastfeeding
Before starting treatment with Herzuma, patients should talk to their doctor about all medications (prescription and over-the-counter), vitamins, and herbal supplements they are taking. Some medications or supplements may interfere with each other and may cause side effects. It is important for doctors to test your heart function before and regularly during therapy with Herzuma since it can cause serious heart problems.5
Herzuma is given through a vein in your arm via intravenous infusion. It must be administered by a healthcare provider at a medical office. The first infusion is given over 90 minutes, to be sure you are tolerating the medication well. After that, it may potentially be given over 30 minutes.3
Your doctor will determine the appropriate dosing regimen and administration schedule for you. When used as adjuvant therapy, Herzuma is generally given in conjunction with other chemotherapy medications. Other additional treatments, such as chemotherapy, will take additional time for infusion administration when given in combination with Herzuma infusion.3
For more information about Herzuma, read the complete prescribing information.
Patients should talk to their doctor if they have any questions, or if they have questions regarding their Herzuma regimen.