If you have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), you may benefit from Benlysta. In particular, this drug is approved to treat active cases of autoantibody-positive SLE in adults. Benlysta is meant to be used in combination with other standard lupus treatments. It works by shortening the lifespan of B cells, which are an important part of the immune system.
Benlysta® (belimumab) is a medication used to treat systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Lupus is an autoimmune disease. The role of the immune system is to fight foreign substances in the body, like bacteria and viruses. But in autoimmune diseases, the immune system is out of control and attacks healthy tissues, not foreign substances.
There are three main types of lupus:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common form. It's sometimes called SLE, or just lupus. The word "systemic" means that the disease can involve many parts of the body, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain. SLE symptoms can be mild or serious.
- Discoid lupus erythematosus mainly affects the skin. A red rash may appear, or the skin on the face, scalp, or elsewhere may change color.
- Drug-induced lupus is triggered by a few medicines. It's like SLE, but symptoms are usually milder. Most of the time, the disease goes away when the medicine is stopped.
Benlysta is approved to treat active, autoantibody-positive SLE and should be used in combination with, not in place of, other standard lupus treatments. Most people with lupus are autoantibody-positive, meaning lab tests have shown that they have certain antibodies in their bloodstream.
Not everyone will respond to Benlysta, and the drug can cause serious side effects. If you try using Benlysta but do not see any significant benefit, your healthcare provider will probably recommend that you stop treatment.
Benlysta has not been studied adequately in people with severe lupus that affects the kidneys (severe active lupus nephritis) or severe lupus that affects the brain or spinal cord (severe active central nervous system lupus). Therefore, it is not approved to treat these conditions.