Bavencio and Its Role in Carcinoma Treatment

Doctor discussing Bavencio treatment with patient

Bavencio, also known by its generic name avelumab, is a monoclonal antibody medication used for the treatment of different types of carcinomas, which are cancers that develop in the epithelial tissues.

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Before taking Bavencio, it is crucial to inform your doctor:

  • If you are allergic to any medications, food, or any other substances.
  • If you have any health problems or chronic diseases.
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is important that patients do not breastfeed for at least 1 month after their last dose of Bavencio.
  • If you are taking any vitamins, herbs, supplements, prescription, or OTC medications.
  • If you have hypersensitivity to any ingredients in Bavencio.

What Is Bavencio?

Bavencio is a prescription-only, FDA-approved medication used alone or in combination with other drugs for treating certain types of renal, bladder, and skin carcinomas.

What Is It Used To Treat?

Bavencio is used to treat the following types of carcinomas:

Urothelial Carcinoma (UC)

Bavencio is indicated for the maintenance treatment in patients with metastatic or locally advanced urothelial cancer who have not responded to first-line platinum-containing chemotherapy drugs.

In urothelial carcinomas, cancer develops in the urothelial cells, or cells that line the bladder, urethra, renal pelvis, or ureters.

Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)

Renal cell carcinoma is a type of kidney cancer originating in the linings of the kidney tubules. Kidney tubules are small tubes in the kidneys that return filtered blood to the body.

Bavencio is given in combination with axitinib for the first-line treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC)

Bavencio is indicated for adults and pediatric patients of 12 years and above with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma. Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare and aggressive type of skin cancer.

How Does Bavencio Work?

Bavencio is a targeted inhibitor of a protein called PD-L1. It targets and inhibits PD-L1 protein at the surface of some immune cells. Blocking the protein stimulates the immune system to fight cancer cells.

How Is Bavencio Administered?

  • Bavencio should be taken exactly as recommended by your provider. 
  • The medication comes as a liquid solution for administration as an intravenous (IV) infusion.
  • You will probably receive your infusion therapy at the doctor’s office over a period of 1 hour.
  • The patients can be premedicated with acetaminophen and antihistamine before the first four infusions. This is done to avoid any inflammation, infusion reactions, or pain.
  • The medication is commonly injected every 2 weeks.
  • Bavencio can be given in combination with axitinib 5 mg orally two times daily every 12 hours for renal carcinoma, depending on the patient’s condition and doctor’s recommendation.
  • It can be taken with or without food.
  • The medication is commonly given until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

What Type of Drug Is Bavencio?

Bavencio is a targeted blocker of immune cell surface proteins. It is a type of immunotherapy called a checkpoint inhibitor. Checkpoint inhibitors block the proteins made by our immune system cells and help the body recognize and attack cancer cells.

Side Effects

Senior woman with joint pain as a result of Bavencio side effects

The common side effects include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Rash
  • Muscle, joint, or bone pain
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight loss
  • High blood pressure 

The severe side effects include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chest pain
  • Jaundice
  • Weight gain 
  • Depression
  • Swelling in the hands, feet, or ankles

Most of these side effects go away within a few days or as soon as you are done with the therapy, but if they become severe or intolerable, consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

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Dosage Form and Strength

Bavencio comes as a liquid solution in a vial containing 200 mg of the drug per 10 ml of solution (200 mg/10 ml).


The usual recommended dose of Bavencio is 800 mg, given every 2 weeks by intravenous infusion over 60 minutes until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.


The overall cost of Bavencio drug therapy depends on various factors, like:

  • The type of pharmacy where the patient purchases the drug.
  • The number of doses prescribed for the patient.
  • The patient’s insurance plan coverage
  • The patient’s condition and the severity of the disease.

On average, the cost of Bavencio intravenous solution is around $1,893 for a supply of 10 ml (20 mg/ml).  

When Was It Approved by the FDA?

On March 23, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Bavencio (avelumab) for the treatment of metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma and urothelial cancer in adults and children aged 12 years and above. 

On May 14, 2019, the FDA approved avelumab in combination with axitinib for treating advanced renal cell carcinoma as a first-line agent.

Is Bavencio a Chemo Drug?

No, it is not a chemo drug. Bavencio is a medication intended to treat various types of cancer, but it works differently compared to chemo drugs. It is a targeted immunotherapy and a type of monoclonal antibody.

Chemotherapy drugs work by killing cancer cells with many other normal cells throughout our body. Targeted immunotherapy works by boosting or strengthening your immune system, so it can fight cancer cells by minimally affecting healthy cells.

Is Bavencio an Immunotherapy?

Yes, it is an immunotherapy, as it works and shows effects by strengthening and stimulating the immune system to fight cancer cells. 

What Is the Success Rate?

The success rates of Bavencio drug therapy can vary from patient to patient, the type and stage of cancer, and overall medical condition. 

Studies have shown that in patients with metastatic bladder cancer and advanced urothelial cancer, the 5-year survival rate with Bavencio is estimated to be 5%. 

Another study showed that the medication prolonged the overall survival rate to 1-year for 79.1% of patients who received Bavencio as opposed to 60.6% of patients who didn’t receive Bavencio.  

Bavencio Treatment Info

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Who Should Not Take Intravenous Avelumab or Bavencio?

Bavencio should be used with extreme caution in patients who have or previously had:

Where Is Bavencio Manufactured?

Bavencio is manufactured by a pharmaceutical company called EMD Serono, Inc. It is located in Rockland, Massachusetts, USA.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your medical condition prior to starting any new treatment. AmeriPharma™ Specialty Care assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content. AmeriPharma™ Specialty Care does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship, or recommendation by AmeriPharma™ Specialty Care. This webpage may contain references to brand-name prescription drugs that are trademarks or registered trademarks of pharmaceutical manufacturers not affiliated with AmeriPharma™ Specialty Care.

Dr. Saba Rassouli, PharmD was born and raised in Iran. She received her pharmacy degree from Marshall B. Ketchum University in 2022, where she graduated cum laude. The most rewarding part of her job is having the opportunity to care for each patient as if they were family and hearing about how happy and satisfied they are with the services provided by AmeriPharma. In her free time, she likes to go on walks, read books, and try different restaurants and foods.

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