FDA approves drug to treat lupus
March 10th, 2011
12:06 PM ET

FDA approves drug to treat lupus

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved the drug Benlysta (belimumab) for the treatment of lupus, a chronic, potentially fatal autoimmune disease that affects about 5 million people across the world and, specifically, about 1.5 million Americans.

“This is a historic day for the millions of people with lupus and their families around the world who have waited more than 52 years for a treatment breakthrough for lupus," said Sandra C. Raymond, president and chief executive officer of the Lupus Foundation of America, in a statement. "Today marks the beginning of a new era of improved diagnosis, prevention, and treatment for the disease."

The disease, in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue, can damage any part of the body. It mostly affects women in their childbearing years, but the LFA says it can also affect men, children and teenagers and people of all races and ethnicities. The condition is diagnosed in African-American women three times as often as Caucasian women.

Before the approval of Benlysta, the FDA last approved Plaquenil, corticosteroids, and aspirin for the treatment of lupus in the mid-1900s.

Lupus symptoms can come and go. When symptoms flare, they can appear as painful or swollen joints, hair loss, extreme fatigue, fever and sensitivity to light. More serious complications involve the body's major organ systems, including the kidneys, arteries and lungs.

Serious infection could also cause death. In the drug studies, 6% of patients on Benlysta had serious- and sometimes fatal-infections from pneumonia, urinary tract infection, cellulitis (a skin infection) and bronchitis. The number of patients on placebo who saw severe infections was 5.2%. A total of 14 deaths occurred out of 2133 patients in all the trials.

But results of the two clinical studies found those patients treated with Benlysta, which is given by monthly infusion, had less disease activity than those on a standard course of medication or a placebo. The results only suggested that some patients had less of a chance of severe flares, and some were able to receive less steroids.

In addition, African-Americans receiving the drug did not respond, and therefore the researchers could not draw a conclusion about the safety and effectiveness. Further study of this population is in the works.

The drug, like any, is not without side effects. In the studies, patients experienced nausea, diarrhea and fever. Reactions at the time of administration of the drug were common, so the FDA suggests considering pre-treatment with an antihistamine.

The label also indicates the drug is not for everyone with lupus. The drug should be available within about two weeks.

soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. Zero10

    It's never lupus.

    March 10, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • blah9999

      Maybe it IS lupis...just this one time

      March 10, 2011 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
    • Emmers

      Gah, I was going to post that. Props.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • Dan Costalis

      Wrong. Sometimes it's lupus, it's never sarcoidosis.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • Gregory Houz

      With this drug it will never be Lupus.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • Leo

      I really hate it when people use that joke. My friends did... just before I was diagnosed. It wasn't quite so funny after that.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
    • matt

      DAMN! You got there first! 🙂

      March 10, 2011 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
    • f

      Maybe its not Lupus. Maybe its MS Multiple Slerosis. I have MS and sometimes it is mistaken for Lupus at first.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
    • Snoogins

      I came in here to say that. Never mind now. lol

      March 10, 2011 at 15:28 | Report abuse |
    • TLG

      My dog has been diagnosed with Lupus. We do not know if it is the low end skin disease or the more invasive kind of Lupus.

      Does anyone know if this drug will work on animals? Or is there something else. My vet just has my dog on Antibiotics, Vitamin B3 and Vitamin E for skin.

      March 10, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
    • holly manheim

      I have recently been diagnosed with lupus and membranous nephritis which did not respond to chemo treatments. I cannot afford the cyclosporin at my age (70) because there is no additional insurance for me. Has anyone heard of any trials that might be going on or must I resign to giving up? People in my family normally live to be 90+ years old.

      March 11, 2014 at 12:40 | Report abuse |
  2. denise

    So what happens to the people who have the more serious lups for instance affecting the kidneys? Does this drug help stop the distruction of the kidney, slow it down or nothing? My sister has had lups since she was 17 years old and is now 35. Her lups makes her get blood clots in her kidneys and also spills protein from them. Her kidney function is not that good. what will this drug do for her besides the typical RA joint pain, flare ups etc?

    March 10, 2011 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cindy

      From what I've been told this new drug helps slow down the progression of lupus. It also helps individuals with a decrease in flare ups. This is per my rheumatologist. Your sister should talk to her dr

      March 10, 2011 at 19:28 | Report abuse |
  3. omegarising

    In a trial, there were more deaths and serious infections among those who received the drug compared with those on a placebo. However, this finding did not concern experts on the F.D.A. advisory committee. Side effects of Benlysta included nausea and diarrhea. A few days before the independent FDA committee review of Human Genome Sciences’ (HGSI) systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) drug Benlysta (belimumab), the FDA suggested that the drug has marginal efficacy and scary adverse effects. The agency expressed concerns about infection, neuropsychiatric complications, including the risk of suicide, and increased risk of death as a result of the use of the drug. Ah the good old FDA, always looking after our well being...*sigh*

    March 10, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Zotia

      Yeah, every time I hear that our FDA approved another drug it sends shivers down my spine.

      March 10, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
    • spencer

      If you know anything about lupus, this is a huge step. The drugs being used now have thoose effects and limited success. Although I agree the FDA is full of red tape and pushes some things through, while holding others up, this is a good thing.

      March 10, 2011 at 12:47 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      6% and 5.2% are statistically insignificant. The FDA is actually moving towards making it more difficult to get drugs approved or the last couple of years (I work in regulatory affairs). The threshold is now pretty high for getting a drug to market. But it's always a trade-off. Benefits of drug vs. side effects. Approval depends on the efficacy of the drug, side effects, adverse events, and the availability of current drugs for the same indication. Lupus, which really had nothing approved for it previously, would be more likely to have a drug approved despite side effects.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse |
    • oussu

      Absolutely on the money Dave. It would be nice if people would educate themselves instead of popping off with ill-informed and politically motivated comments. Oh well, one can dream.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      you should experience the side effects of actually HAVING lupus...

      March 10, 2011 at 14:04 | Report abuse |
    • Phage0070

      Wow, wouldn't it be terrible if highly trained expert doctors had to decide if the benefits of a drug outweighed the side effects and risks on an individual basis, rather than the FDA across the board rejecting a drug because it may be dangerous?

      March 10, 2011 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
    • da

      What they don't say is that the cost will be prohibitively expensive, and I wonder what its insurance coverage will be like. Similar drugs for other diseases can run several thousand dollars a dose with sketchy ins. coverage dpending on plan.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • hillbilleter

      The FDA – the same people who approved aspartame as a food additive, knowing it would maim and kill people. And, they knew it would be used by dieters to try to lose weight, although it causes changes in human metabolism that promotes weight gain. But, the FDA people who did that now work for the company that made aspartame.

      I would be interested in seeing a list of FDA personnel's job migrations after this approval.

      March 10, 2011 at 15:16 | Report abuse |
  4. spencer

    @denise My wife has lupus. She was diagnosed at age 12. She also has proturia. Her primary symptoms are joint pain, muscle inflammation and fatique. One of the most difficult things with lupus is that it is different from patient to patient. There is not a "text book" case of lupus. From my understanding, this drug will not help people with organ symptoms. But this approval is a huge step. It is bringing awarness and the studies have let researchers learn more about what could help other aspects of this disease.

    March 10, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Angela

      I was was 17 when I was told that I have lupus I just had my first and only child I have went though hell I have a seizure disorder I take Plaquneil after 12 yrs prednisone 12oo mg tegretol a day for seizures 81 mg baby aspirin prescribed vitamin I want tofind more info on this artical it sounds good I go to my doctor next week I hope they have info on this.Just a note I get up every day and go to work I take care of myself so I am lucky in that note.

      March 10, 2011 at 18:24 | Report abuse |
    • spencer

      @ angela My wife also works everyday and takes great pride in teaching our daughter that this is what you do. She could get disability but refuses. We spend around $500 per month on meds and this is with good insurance. Plaquinil, prednisone, mutilpe pain meds(patches and pills for breakthrew pain), bone building meds for osteoporosis, meds to fight fatique because of pain pills(ritalin), etc and etc... We also see her doctor this month, a wonderful doctor in Pittsburgh(5 1/2 drive from our home), Dr. Kaporis. Keep your head up. Stay involved with Lupus groups and others to realize that there are others like you.

      March 10, 2011 at 20:41 | Report abuse |
  5. A

    This comes a day late and is a dollar short for a good friend of mine, whose mom passed away of lupus in December.

    March 10, 2011 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      So sorry to hear that. I know a couple of people who live with Lupus, and it's heartbreaking. I'm hoping for the day when there's an even more targeted therapy for Lupus, as there is now with tyrosine kinase inhibitors for CML.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
    • f

      OPXA is a company working on a targeted T-cell treatent for MS, another auto-immune disease (that I have) . Being someone interested in the stock market and MS, I checked out their work. They were recently approved by the FDA to do Phase III trail for the MS drug. It may also eventually work on other auto-immune diseases like Lupus.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • Angela

      Hopefully it will be a day early for others sorry for your friends lost

      March 10, 2011 at 18:31 | Report abuse |
    • Ali

      Lupus people heal more slolwy, get infections more often and have a hard time getting better. Our immune systems are not weak, they are over active and confused. They are busy attacking healthy parts of us instead of invaders like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The medications we take to control lupus suppress our immune system so things like injury, burns, and infections are harder to fight.

      November 16, 2012 at 00:14 | Report abuse |
  6. Liz in Seattle

    I cannot believe how incredibly stupidly written this article is. It's just a restatement of the future package insert. What company developed the drug, CNN??? Excuse me while I got to the NY Times now to actually find out the facts pertaining to this story.

    March 10, 2011 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Summi

    This sounds plain scary. I think I should rather suffer with my lupus than take this drug. How can you approve something with so many risks and very few good results?

    March 10, 2011 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • spencer

      Obviously you don't have lupus.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
    • Matt in Minny

      Pretty ignorant comment from someone who clearly doesn't know what Lupus is.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
    • Suzanne

      @Summi...live with it for a month and you'll change your opinion. You will be happy with ANY advances that are made.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • Zee

      I have a rare and devastating autoimmune disorder (not lupus). I take prednisone – the only drug that works for it – at a low dose. Previously I took much larger doses and risked diabetes, sudden death, glaucoma. The prednisone caused my bones to become brittle and I have to take another med for that (which has been successful in restoring my bones to normal density) But the direct effects of the disease are much worse than any side effects of the drug used to treat it. The disease kills slowly and with excruciating pain – something I'm not currently experiencing from the medication.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • Summi

      I do have lupus. I will be content taking my steroids muscle relaxers and pain meds. So how are you to judge my comment. I also have fibromyalgia and refuse to take the drug approved for it. Because of the side effects.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • spencer

      Do you know the side efects of steriods, muscle relaxers and opiates?

      March 10, 2011 at 15:32 | Report abuse |
    • hillbilleter

      I have allergies to most of the meds used to treat lupus, and pain meds actually make my symptoms worse. Many of my cousins on both sides of my family have immune disorders. My father and my mother came from different regions (having met in the Army), but lupus/MS, etc., wasn't well known when they married, so they did not know they were joining two families with overactive immune systems.I have more than a dozen I am very interested to see the preliminary results from the use of this treatment on the general public.

      March 10, 2011 at 15:46 | Report abuse |
  8. blah9999

    "In addition, African-Americans receiving the drug did not respond"

    The drug is racist!!

    March 10, 2011 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • f

      Where's Rev. Al Sharpton, Luis Farakan and REv. Jesse jackson when you need them?

      March 10, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
  9. Grumpy

    Since lupus is a disease that primarily affects people of color and women, it never received the research monies it deserved. It wasn't until the advent of HIV/AIDS that those who control purse strings began to provide researchers with the necessary funding for really studying the human immune system. Since then we know a lot more about HIV/AIDS, thank goodness, and, as an added bonus, more than we'ver ever known about lupus.The truth of the matter is that if lupus was a disease that affected white, male politicians, it would have received the research dollars that were needed long ago. Instead, research monies on dealing with such horrendous malidies as erectile disfunction and male pattern baldness. Thank goodness this drug has finally been introduced! It's been a long time coming!

    March 10, 2011 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dan

      your right, 2/3 of lupus sufferers are black, 90% are woman. name another disease that does as much damage to as many people and gets almost zero attention.. u can't. is there any doubt its because it affects mostly black woman?

      March 10, 2011 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
    • Zee

      Really? Racism is why lupus doesn't get the attention it deserves? Follow the money. That's what the world is about now. Diabetes disproportionatley affects people of color and there's no shortage of research on that. Find a cure or treatment for anything that Americans suffer from, and you'll be rich. Lupus belongs to the larger "family" of autoimmune disorders. AI disorders affect millions – many of whom are of northern Euro descent (which alone is a risk factor for AI problems). There is much research on the immune system (and its disorders) as it ties into all other areas of medicine. This isn't about race. It's so nice to make it about race so we can demonize the white man a million times over for things he didn't do in order to make us feel better about our own deficiencies, but it would be more believable if you picked a different issue. Like something that actually involves white racism.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
  10. Egg

    I was diagnosed with Lupus 17 years ago after a few years of troubles my Doc. couldn't figure out (I'm one of the "lucky" males with the disease). When Nephritis set in (kidneys) things got way out of control and 14 months of chemo followed. Chemo worked, and helped again a few years later when Nephritis returned. Now I'm told no more chemo due to the dangers of it causeing cancer, so I worry what happens when Nephritis returns?
    I'll look into Benlysta, what it does, how it helps. But as a laid off unemployed worker I doubt the cost of this stuff is anything I can deal with.

    March 10, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • omegarising

      Never mind being unemployed, at an estimated cost of $35,000.00 a year even the employed can't afford this. Only the very well off. ( can you say rich white people) But wait, i guess they do need to recoup that 2 billion they claimed they spent on research, even if it does have very scary side affects and very marginal efficacy.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • spencer

      @omegarising Wrong place for antiFDA and capatalist drug company talk. Most agree with that. This is a good day for lupus patients.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      @omegarising, this should be covered by insurance. Also, from first experiment to getting a drug to market, $500 million to well over a billion is typical for a single drug. Then you have to figure that a drug company/biotech company is spending millions researching and running trials on drugs that never make it to market (never make them a single penny). Don't feel sorry for the drug companies, but be realistic. If this drug took longer, needed more trials, nearing $2 billion is definitely possible.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:22 | Report abuse |
    • Juan

      @omegarising, If African Americans were removed from the study the efficacy would be much higher. It doesn't clearly state that in this article, but it does on other sites. For some reason, it doesn't work as well on blacks. I watched some of the hearings though (my mom has lupus) and 2 or 3 of the patient advocates were black. You can find the hearing on you tube. They kept going on about how it changed their life. It's worth a shot imo.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • Zee

      @omegarising. So a wealthy person of color would be refused the drug? Last I checked money was green no matter what color hand held it. What are you actually saying?

      March 10, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
    • hhd

      had cytoxan for lupus nephritis, when protenuria returned, I was put on cellcept – pill by mouth, ususally used in organ transplant patients to prevent rejection of the organ. cell cept has helped – this is a great alternative to chemo.

      March 10, 2011 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
  11. Elsy

    Interesting info on Lupus

    March 10, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Kell

    So, has anyone done any studies to find out why 1.5 million of the 5 million world-wide lupus sufferers are located in the US? The median estimate of world-wide population is about 9billion, with the US population at just shy of 308 million. So why is it that Americans have a rate of 0.4886% population with lupus, while the world wide average is 0.0556% which means that Americans are almost 10 times more likely to have lupus than the world average?

    March 10, 2011 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      It's a B#@ch to diagnose, that's why. The US has the infrastructure and medical expertise to diagnose. It can take years of suffering for someone to finally be diagnosed with Lupus. And with it highly concentrated in the African American population, you would think Africa would have a similar rate. But mow many places in Africa will someone get the kind of attention, follow up, diagnostics, and history that are required to diagnose this disease? It should have said, 1.5 million of 5 million DIAGNOSED.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      agreed, my mother went to doctors (in the US btw) for 5 years before she was diagnosed. before that, every dr diagnosed her with something different, all were wrong, and some pretty much told her that her ailments were in her head.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
    • Leo

      For decades, until immunological testing became more common, it was almost impossible to diagnose lupus unless you have the most "classic" symptoms (facial rash, etc.). And before you even get that far, you need a doctor who will actually put all the pieces together. Unless they already suspect the disease, they won't even ORDER the tests. The diagnosis comes from a combination of tests, including blood tests for specific antibodies, skin and kidney biopsies, a history of symptoms, urine tests, and even sonograms to locate inflammation. Also, almost every symptom can be caused by other diseases individually (hence the House MD joke), and it takes a clever doctor to see the big picture.

      A lot of doctors will simply tell a patient, "It's all in your mind," and then turn them away with no tests.

      So, what happens in undeveloped countries where those tests aren't even available? Simple: the patient suffers more and more, while trying every treatment for everything they can think of (but never the right thing), and finally the patient dies of one of the major complications... blood clot, kidney failure, seizure complications, untreated pleurisy or pericarditis, or infection.

      THAT is why there aren't as many diagnosed cases in other countries. They all simply die off without ever getting a diagnosis.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
    • Sonia

      Regina is an inspiration to us all, a wouderfnl Mother, Wife, and definitely an awesome Friend. Her strenght and ability to fight inspires me everyday. When I am down and feeling bad with my minor pains I think of her and ask myself what am I complaining about. Regina lives life to the fullest and we all can learn a thing or two from her. I Love my Friend!!!Linda

      November 16, 2012 at 00:52 | Report abuse |
  13. closetiguana

    Human Genome Sciences is one of the few stocks not taking a beating today

    March 10, 2011 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Cindy

    Hope it works, I just want to heal!

    March 10, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Angela

      I know how you feel just wanting to be normal and healthy

      March 10, 2011 at 18:28 | Report abuse |
  15. Anon

    Lupus is caused by Lyme Disease and it can be cured!!

    March 10, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yikes!

      Yeah, if you eat the feces of the tick that bit you and transmitted the disease. It's so simple even a caveman-like poster can do it.

      March 10, 2011 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
    • Leo

      You're not very intelligent, are you? Either that, or very VERY misinformed.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
    • jane

      Blanket statements like this one don't really help anyone's cause...especially your own. After some weird symptoms, I had a positive ANA, which is one of the hallmarks of lupus and other autoimmune diseases. I ended up being diagnosed with Lyme and after 6 months of abx am 100% better....and my positive ANA went away. There are so many differential diagnosis and overlap between lyme, lupus, MS and other diseases. Unless you have a pathogonomic symptom (butterfly rash, bullseye rash, lesions on particular areas of the brain) you really should rule out all differentials. And, yes it really should be "you" because one doctor does not usually test you for all possibilities. I know lupus is real and can manifest in the absence of any tick population, so your statement is false. As a fellow "lymie", statements like this really make us all look bad and not unlike conspiracy theorists.

      March 10, 2011 at 15:38 | Report abuse |
    • OldFatChick

      And you got your medical degree from???? You are ill-informed to say the least. I have mixed connective tissue disease, Sjogren's Syndrome, Reynaud's and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. All are autoimmune diseases. There is NO cure for autoimmune disease. You can go into remission, but there is not a cure. Only meds to combat the symptoms. It can take 10-15 years or more to get a diagnosis. My PCP diagnosed me with Lupus after one blood test and still doesn't accept that his diagnosis was wrong. At the other end of the spectrum are those who will not or can not diagnose it at all.

      March 10, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse |
  16. marik

    My mom is in icu as I write. She has systemic lupus. All these years I've watched her slowly deteriorate. Her body literally is at war with itself. Not a very nice way to die. To those who suffer I wish you kindness.

    March 10, 2011 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ana

      I'm so sorry Marik. I have watched my mom battle with lupus for almost 30 years and have seen her in a coma and ICU so many times i have lost count. My prayers with you and your mother.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:04 | Report abuse |
  17. Dee

    too bad the drug forlupus was not found 10 years ago. My son shot himself because he couldn't deal with the effects of lupus.

    March 10, 2011 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. frances

    I know someone who has found marijauna to eliminate flares and subsequent damage from inflamation. It suppresses the immune system much like the steriod without the side effects. The marijauna does'nt disable your immune system like the steriod does. I would like to see more research with marijauna as a safer more studied source of relief for millions.

    March 10, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kenneth

      I agree 100%. My mom has had lupus and been and out of the hospital for 10 years. I firmly believe that marijuana would allow for a healthier and less painful lifestyle than the alternative... steroids.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:43 | Report abuse |
    • drew

      agree! diagnosed 25 years ago after kidney biopsy @univ of Mich ...im a daily pot smoker... i self medicate and rarely need pain meds or flash paks of steroids...do take plaq daily but only half the prescribed dose..wish i took none but dont want to hear told u so from my doc....truly believe the herb has helped me thru all these years and positively should be given ...it is safer than the majority of manmade prescriptions with unknown side effects for lots of other medical conditions as well...but am thankful for science and research without i would not be here today...so if and when needed I will take if my insurance covers...lol

      March 10, 2011 at 19:59 | Report abuse |
  19. Eking

    This drug costs $35,000 per year. Who is going to benefit? Only millionaires with lupus.

    March 10, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. GetYourFactsStraight

    @Anon, Lupus is not caused just by Lyme Disease and IT CANNOT BE CURED, do not write things if you have no clue about it. I have three family members with Lupus so you can say I’m an expert. Lupus is extremely hard to diagnose, it can take just one test or years of testing to see if you have it. I for one have called my mother (she has had it for over 15 years) and told her about this, I'm not sure if it will work but thank God there are studies trying to help Lupus patients.
    @marik, I am truly sorry about your mom I have been there many times with my mom, I will pray for you both.

    March 10, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. silvia

    My sister has Lupus and my family has almost been destroyed emotionally because they don't know how to deal with it. I hope this drug will bring some relieve.

    March 10, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Bobby

    And the side-effects are......

    March 10, 2011 at 14:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leo

      The side effects are... NOT as bad as the actual disease.

      March 10, 2011 at 14:39 | Report abuse |
  23. Stephanie

    As a person who has RA, I can tell you that most people with a chronic, painful disease will gladly take the 5% risk of serious infection over continuing to live with symptoms. The risk of infection doesn't sound any different than most biologic meds for autoimmune diseases; watch the commercials for Enbrel, Orencia, Remicade, Humira, etc. and they will all list relatively similar side effects.

    @Egg, you'd be surprised how many drug companies offer assistance when you aren't able to pay for an expensive medication. I take Enbrel and used to pay nearly $300 a month for it as a copay. The drug company stepped in and from then on I paid $10 a month. I have better insurance now and don't need the assistance, but it sure helped for a couple of years.

    I'm glad that Lupus has had a breakthrough even if it is somewhat limited. The advance of biologic drugs has been a Godsend for people with autoimmune diseases like RA, Crohn's, Psoriasis, etc. and often means we can get off the much nastier chemo drugs, like methotrexate. I hope that this breakthrough leads to more advances.

    March 10, 2011 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Don

    I am one of the few white males to be diagnosed. I just got diagnosed about 6 months ago after having a lot of pain and discomfort, I was 26. My heart goes out to you all that are effected by this disease. Sometimes the pain is enough to bring me to my knees, even though I would consider myself young and in great condition, considering. I also have Sjogren's as well, which is really bad during the winter.

    I am just thankful that there is some medication to help and that I am not on steroids, yet. But there is not much out there. I think it has less to do with who gets effected and more to do with how difficult a disease this is to treat. It's your own body attacking you, it's not like you can just kill it off like a virus or bacteria.

    I hope that this is one of a long line of medicines to help our community. I am trying to enjoy the better days of my life while I am still able to and try to look on the bright side of things. At least there is something out there, at least we have a community of people that care for one another, at least I live in a country where I have access to advanced medicines to help me. I am just thankful for the people that help.

    March 10, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Trent

    I wish this drug was available 34 years ago my father might still be here. He passed away at 35 yrs old from this terrible disease. I hope this drug will help a lot of people it is a long time coming!!!

    March 10, 2011 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. C'jae

    Are you Serious? "For the Rich White People"?!! You are obviously a bitter misled,uneducated,gatred bred lonely soul! GET OVER IT! The poor poor pittiful me B.S. Simply doesn't fly!

    March 10, 2011 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. C'jae

    Are you Serious? "For the Rich White People"?!! You are obviously a bitter misled,uneducated,hatred bred lonely soul! GET OVER IT! The poor pittiful me B.S. Simply doesn't fly!

    March 10, 2011 at 15:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Joshua

    would this cure them?

    March 10, 2011 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OldFatChick

      NO. It will not cure them. It will only help to manage the symptoms. But if you have autoimmune disease, that is a big deal. Relief from the pain and fatigue is often difficult to come by.

      March 10, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
  29. hillbilleter

    I'm wondering if results of the drug testing is available for those of Hispanic, Arabic and/or Mediterranean descent. As a Melungeon (no, not the incorrect dictionary version – see melungeon.org), I have a special interest in diseases that concern Mediterranean, American Indian, and European peoples. AI and certain blood disorders are more common, and drugs do not always act the same on us. As a matter of fact, pain meds make my lupus worse. It took ten years for me to talk a doctor into testing me for lupus because they all said, "It's rare. You don't have it." But I had more than a dozen cousins with AI, and they said my symptoms were very familiar to them. Finally, my allergist said the sheer number of my allergies indicated that there might be an immunological reason for them, and he ordered the test.

    After thirty days, the results were ready – and people, if your lupus test took less than a month, you DIDN'T have the correct test. Yep,it was lupus, as I had been trying to tell them. I think one of the reasons doctors are loath to diagnose lupus is that the labs don't want to dedicate that much time to one test. It takes a lot of blood, a lot of testing space, and a lot of personnel hours that they could be devoting to completing many other tests. Many medical groups get a kickback from the lab for each patient they send for testing, too, and that may also play a role in the types of test that do or do not get sent to the labs. And it may be a big reason why a diagnosis of lupus has been traditionally "rare."

    March 10, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Karen

      My father had some of the same issues. He was finally told he had a "Poly-Rheumatica" disease, similar to Lupis. As a Melungeon, you are prob familiar with Brent Kennedy and you may wish to go to "My Melungeon Homepage" to contact him directly.

      March 2, 2012 at 00:20 | Report abuse |
  30. albert

    what will happen when you take the drug?

    March 10, 2011 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Char

    I hope this really works and more studies are taking place. My best friend has Lupus and I hate 2 see her suffer

    March 10, 2011 at 17:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. MJ

    I too have LUPUS... I think that we all have the same dream... a CURE. I just walked through the house and kissed my 4 sleeping children... I hope that I can be around to help them grow up... but mostly I hope that they will not have to suffer this same disease. You would not be on this site if you did not care about the pain of LUPUS so I pray for all of us, our families and loved ones... God bless us all... spread good energy, we need it 🙂

    March 10, 2011 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Carmen Blake

    I have erythema nodosum a branch of Lupus. My flare ups are primarily in my legs and joints, extreme fatigue, no leg muscle strength with much trouble breathing. The flareups are getting more and more severe with my legs constantly swelling, no ability to move sometimes literally crawling on the floor in the morning or going from chair to chair. I take the maximum amount of plaquenil, prednosone, dapsone,naprozen, high blood pressure meds, for reflux, and have gained 100 lbs since starting meds, I am anemic, severe leg cramps every night and can't sit very long or my legs turn into boards. The flare ups are getting more severe and the huge red, hot, hard black and blue bruises are getting more and more inflamed and more sensitive than ever before. I am so tired of taking more and more prescriptions. I am afraid to quit work but it is so hard just to walk into my office or get up or sit down at my desk. My inability to move is adding more pounds to aggravate my condition. I am so old 68 that I doubt it will ever be perfected to help me since I have had it so long. I couldn't be able to afford it anyway so I don't know why I was getting so excited. Now I am really depressed but hopefully it will help someone younger. This disease stole my life. I just don't know how much longer I can hold on or really care. I really think it is time for me to just give up and shut up. Good luck to the rest of you and have comfort in knowing that you have friends who really do know what you are enduring.

    March 10, 2011 at 23:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Adela

    I live in a small town (NE Ohio) population 35,000 . There are 348 cases of lupus and 80% deaths are due to cancer.The drug companies make billions. yes there is a cure but again how can the legal drug dealers make money

    March 11, 2011 at 01:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Jennifer

    To TLG... Did you find out if Benlysta is availbe for Canines with Lupus??
    Our Dog Cocco has Systemic Lupus, she is on prednisolone but anything new interests us
    I have not been able to find anything regarding Benlysta use for Canine treatment
    Please if anyone can help with this I would be extreamly grateful

    April 3, 2011 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
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