Benlysta : Uses, Side effects and Interactions
What is Benlysta?
Benlysta (Belimumab) is a prescription medicine for treating systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a persistent disease in which the immune system wrongly attacks the body’s healthy cells causing swelling and redness in the affected organs such as skin, brain, kidney, and lungs.
Benlysta is an additional treatment in adult SLE patients with standard Lupus treatment, such as prednisone steroid. It reduces lupus disease symptoms more effectively with other drugs than other SLE drugs when used alone. Benlysta is also used for other autoimmune disorders apart from SLE.
Key Facts of Benlysta
- Benlysta is the first FDA (The Food and Drug Administration, United States) approved biologic drug for Systemic lupus erythematosus. It is available only as trade–name medication.
- Benlysta biosimilar drug is not available
- In 2011, the FDA approved Benlysta for Systemic lupus erythematosus
- In 2019, The FDA approved Benlysta use in children with Systemic lupus erythematosus in USA, Europe, and Japan , .
Category of drug
- Benlysta active ingredient is Belimumab. It belongs to the selective immunosuppressant drug class.
- Belimumab is the monoclonal antibody that binds to proteins crucial in causing SLE and other autoimmune diseases
Mode of action of Benlysta
- Benlysta work by binding to specific proteins in the blood that attacks our body (auto-antibodies)
- The drug decreases the number of autoantibodies and hence helps control the symptoms of SLE
Uses of Benlysta
FDA has approved Benlysta to treat the following conditions in adults and children of 5 years and older:
Systemic Lupus erythematosus
- SLE is an autoimmune condition characterized by fever, skin rash, and joint pain
- Lupus Nephritis is the kidney inflammation caused by lupus characterized by swelling of the hands and feet, high blood pressure, foamy urine, and blood in the urine.
- Only intravenous injection is approved for use in children above five years and older with active SLE (a disease with symptoms)
Dosage & formulations of Benlysta
Formulation of Benlysta
Benlysta is available in two forms:
The powder comes in two powers (strength)
- 120 mg (milligrams)
- 400 mg
The powder is mixed with a liquid solution for injection under the skin.
- The liquid solution comes in auto-injectors or prefilled syringes and is injected under the skin.
- It comes in one power (strength) of 200 mg per milliliter
Dosage of Benlysta
The commonly used dosages of Benlysta are as follows:
Benlysta intravenous injection
- For the first three doses, each dose will be administered every two weeks
- After that, a dose is administered every four weeks
Benlysta subcutaneous injection
- A dose is administered once weekly, and it is given only to adults
- However, one must always take the exact dose the physician prescribes
Intravenous infusions are carried out at a doctor’s office or hospital. However, one can also take it at home by a trained nurse.
Intravenous infusion is done as follows:
- The power is mixed with the supplied liquid to make a solution
- The solution is then infused through a vein in the arm
- It usually takes about an hour to acquire the entire drug dose of Benlysta infused
- Benlysta Subcutaneous injection comes in a syringe or auto-injector form.
- The first dose of Benlysta subcutaneous injection is given at a doctor’s office to ensure the patient doesn’t experience any severe side effects.
- After that, the patient can take the subsequent doses at home after prior learning or from a health care nurse.
Remember the following things before injecting
- One must give the injection in the thigh or abdomen
- Must rotate the side each week and must not administer at the same injected points
- One should also avoid injecting at the red, tender areas.
Side effects of Benlysta
Mild side effects
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficult sleeping
- Infections such as the common cold
- Migraine (headache)
- Redness and pain in the injection site
- Pain in the legs and arms
Serious side effects
- Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy is a rare and fatal viral infection that affects part of the brain
- Swelling of the face, mouth, and lips
- Difficult breathing
- Serious infection
- Depression with suicidal thoughts
- Taking excess Benlysta over the recommended dose can lead to serious side effects.
- In case of an accidental Benlysta overdose, immediately dial the emergency medical number based on the geographical location or head to the nearest emergency room
Contraindications related to Benlysta
Benlysta might not be right for people with the following conditions:
- Nursing mothers (breastfeeding women) should avoid using Benlysta due to the lack of information on the safety and efficiency of Benlysta in these groups
- Due to limited studies in these groups, Benlysta is not recommended for people with active nervous system lupus
- People with mood disorders such as depression with suicidal thoughts
- Cancer patient
- Who recently get vaccination
- People taking other biologic drugs
- Who is allergic to the ingredients of Benlysta
- One with certain infections
- People with alcoholism (addicted to alcohol)
- Who is planning to get pregnant
Interactions of Benlysta
Benlysta might interact with the following medications:
- Biologic drugs such as certolizumab, etanercept, golimumab, infliximab
- Monoclonal antibodies such as rituximab, ofatumumab, ocrelizumab
- Cyclophosphamide( anti-cancer drug)
- Live virus vaccines such as measles and mumps vaccines
However, other drugs might also interact with Benlysta. So, it is always essential to inform the doctor about the list of drugs one is using before taking Benlysta
Storage & Disposal of Benlysta
- One must store Benlysta syringes, vials, and auto-injectors in a refrigerator between temperatures 2 to 8 degrees centigrade.
- One can keep the syringes and auto-injectors at room temperature of 30 degrees centigrade for up to 12 hours and do not keep Benlysta in the freezer
- One must not shake the Benlysta vials and syringes
- Benlysta must be kept in the original carton away from direct sunlight
- Benlysta must be kept out of reach of young children, kids, and pets.
- One must dispose of unused medication in thrash or an FDA-approved disposal container (available online). It will prevent accidental use by children and pets.
- Immediately throw the medications whose expiry date has crossed
- Benlysta is the approved drug for systemic lupus erythematosus to be used along with the standard treatment of SLE.
- Always inform the health care provider about the medical conditions before taking Benlysta.
- One must take Benlysta intravenous infusions in a health clinic or doctor’s office .
- One must follow the exact Benlysta dose recommended by the health care professional to avoid unwanted side effects.