What is Benlysta?
Benlysta is the trade name of Belimumab and was previously known as LymphoStat-B. It's a new drug that inhibits a protein called "B-cell activating factor" (BAFF), which is also known as "B Lymphocyte stimulator" (BLyS). This protein is believed to be responsible for the over-active immune response in SLE, which damage the body's own healthy tissues.
Benlysta is administered via IV (intravenous infusion), which takes one hour, and is given every four weeks.
Who can take Benlysta?
It is used as a treatment for moderate to severe lupus, and should also reduce the need for other drugs such as steroids.
People with the more severe cases of SLE (with central nervous system and severe kidney involvement) were excluded from the major phase III drug trials, so the drug's effectiveness has not yet been demonstrated in those cases.
What are the side effects of Benlysta?
The most common side effects of Benlysta are:
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Cough (bronchitis)
- Trouble sleeping
- Leg or arm pain
- Headache (migraine)
- Sore throat
- Urinary tract infection
- Decreased white blood cell count (leukopenia)
- Stomach pain
More uncommon but very severe side effects may include:
Increased risk of cancer, serious allergic reaction, mental health problems, increased risk of suicide, heart problems and infections.