(BPT) - This content was sponsored by GSK. Nadine is a real patient who was on treatment at the time of these interviews. GSK paid for her time and expenses in sharing her unique experiences. Individual results may vary.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body. For the 1.5 million people in the U.S. who have lupus, it can feel draining and overwhelming.
Yet, for 36-year-old Nadine of Wilton Manners, Florida, self-care helped her cope with her disease. Talking openly with her doctor and finding a treatment plan that works for her has improved her health and ability to manage lupus.
“I was diagnosed with lupus at age 21. I was at work when I noticed my hands were swelling, red, and hurt a lot. I had never experienced pain like that before so I went to the ER. Shortly after that, I was back in the ER again with a butterfly rash on my face. I took the ER doctor’s advice and saw a rheumatologist, who diagnosed me with lupus. In hindsight, I realize I had lupus symptoms even before my first ER visit,” adds Nadine.
What is Lupus?
The immune system is like a bodyguard against invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and other germs. But in individuals with lupus, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own healthy tissues. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems, including the joints, skin, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. Lupus can also cause the immune system to attack and inflame the kidneys. When this happens, it’s called lupus nephritis (LN). Approximately 40% of people living with lupus develop lupus nephritis.
Anyone can develop lupus. However, nine out of 10 people with lupus are female. Women ages 15-44 are at a higher risk.
Like Nadine, people with lupus often have a long journey before they are diagnosed. Because there is no one test for lupus, getting a diagnosis can be difficult. Often it is like putting a puzzle together. A health provider will need to keep track of the person’s symptoms and look at their medical history. Diagnosing and treating lupus early are vital to control the disease and reduce the risk of long-term organ damage. Three factors contribute to organ damage: persistent disease activity, severe flares, and the prolonged use of steroids.
Originally, Nadine’s doctor started her on steroids. The steroids helped in the short-term to relieve her symptoms, but Nadine learned that steroids can cause weight gain and raise the risk of organ damage. In fact, as many as half of people with lupus experience permanent organ damage within five years of diagnosis. Organ damage can lead to additional health complications and even early death. Because LN damages the kidneys, up to 20% of people with LN will develop end-stage kidney disease after 10 years.
Five years after her initial diagnosis, Nadine was in the hospital from a severe flare of her lupus. “I was then diagnosed with lupus nephritis,” said Nadine. “After three years suffering with LN, nothing seemed to work. I had lost hope. I asked my doctor for a different treatment, and he told me about BENLYSTA® (belimumab). After one year of adding BENLYSTA, I started to feel relief from my disease activity.”
In a clinical study in Black patients with lupus, a reduction in disease activity was seen but was not statistically significant. Ask your doctor about BENLYSTA.
BENLYSTA is a prescription medicine, given intravenously (IV) or subcutaneously, for adults with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) or active lupus nephritis on other lupus medicines. BENLYSTA IV is approved in children aged 5 years and older with SLE on other lupus medicines. It is not known if BENLYSTA is safe and effective in people with severe active central nervous system lupus.
Do not receive BENLYSTA if you are allergic to belimumab or to any of the ingredients in BENLYSTA.
BENLYSTA can cause serious side effects, some of which may cause death. BENLYSTA may increase the risk of a serious and life-threatening brain infection (PML) and certain cancers. Tell your doctor right away if you have infections, allergic reactions, mental health problems, suicidal thoughts, and recent or planned vaccinations.
Common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, fever, stuffy or runny nose and sore throat, persistent cough, trouble sleeping, leg or arm pain, depression, headache, and injection site reactions. These are not all the possible side effects of BENLYSTA.
Please see full Important Safety Information below and full Prescribing Information.
Lupus patients who are on treatment may still experience flares. It’s important that patients talk with their doctors about managing their lupus. Adding BENLYSTA to their treatment plans may help. Clinical trials have shown it reduced lupus disease activity, reduced the risk of severe flares and reduced steroid use by 25% or more.*† First approved in 2011, it is the first and only approved biologic for both lupus and LN in more than 50 years and has more than 10 years of clinical evidence.
Nadine is passionate about helping to encourage other people who are living with lupus. She shared this message for her fellow lupus warriors: “You may get to a point where you think you can’t go on or you can't handle lupus anymore, but you can. You are so much stronger than you think you are. Even though it will be difficult, you have to find some kind of joy or purpose in life. It is there. You just have to be willing to find it.”
To learn more about lupus and Benlysta, visit www.benlysta.com.
* Compared to other lupus medicines alone.
† A reduction of steroid dose was seen but was not statistically significant.
Important Safety Information
Do not receive BENLYSTA if you are allergic to belimumab or to any of the ingredients in BENLYSTA.
The most important information to know about BENLYSTA
Immunosuppressive agents, including BENLYSTA, can cause serious side effects. Some of these side effects may cause death.
- Infections: fever, chills, pain or burning with urination, urinating often, coughing up mucus, or warm, red, or painful skin or sores on your body. Infections could be serious, leading to hospitalization or death.
- Allergic (hypersensitivity) reactions: itching, swelling of the face, lips, mouth, tongue, or throat, trouble breathing, anxiousness, low blood pressure, dizziness or fainting, headache, nausea, or skin rash. Serious allergic reactions can happen on the day of, or in the days after, receiving BENLYSTA and may cause death.
- Mental health problems and suicide: thoughts of suicide or dying, attempt to commit suicide, trouble sleeping (insomnia), new or worse anxiety or depression, acting on dangerous impulses, other unusual changes in your behavior or mood, or thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
Before receiving BENLYSTA also discuss with your healthcare provider if you:
- think you have an infection or have infections that keep coming back. You should not receive BENLYSTA if you have an infection unless your healthcare provider tells you to.
- have or have had mental health problems such as depression or thoughts of suicide.
- have recently received a vaccination or if you think you may need a vaccination. If you are receiving BENLYSTA, you should not receive live vaccines.
- are taking other medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
- are allergic to other medicines.
- are receiving other biologic medicines or monoclonal antibodies.
- have or have had any type of cancer.
- have any other medical conditions.
- are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if BENLYSTA will harm your unborn baby. You should talk to your healthcare provider about whether to prevent pregnancy while on BENLYSTA. If you choose to prevent pregnancy, you should use an effective method of birth control while receiving BENLYSTA and for at least 4 months after the final dose of BENLYSTA.
Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant during your treatment with BENLYSTA or if you think you may be pregnant.
- become pregnant while receiving BENLYSTA. Talk to your healthcare provider about enrolling in the BENLYSTA Pregnancy Registry. You can enroll in this registry by calling 1-877-681-6296. The purpose of this registry is to monitor the health of you and your baby.
- are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if BENLYSTA passes into your breast milk. You and your healthcare provider should talk about whether or not you should receive BENLYSTA and breastfeed.
Possible side effects of BENLYSTA
- Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). PML is a serious and life-threatening brain infection. PML can result in death or severe disability. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you notice any new or worsening medical problems: memory loss, trouble thinking, dizziness or loss of balance, difficulty talking or walking, or loss of vision.
- Cancer. Medicines that affect the immune system, including BENLYSTA, may increase your risk of certain cancers.
The most common side effects of BENLYSTA are nausea, diarrhea, fever, stuffy or runny nose and sore throat, persistent cough, trouble sleeping, leg or arm pain, depression, headache, and pain, redness, itching, or swelling at the site of injection (when given subcutaneously). These are not all the possible side effects of BENLYSTA. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
Please see Prescribing Information and Medication Guide for BENLYSTA (belimumab); Intravenous Use 20 mg/vial; Subcutaneous Use 200 mg/mL.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
For more information on BENLYSTA, visit www.benlysta.com.
©2022 GSK or licensor.
BELADVR220001 March 2022
Produced in USA.