Belimumab Print Page

What is belimumab?

  • Belimumab (Benlysta) is in a family of medications called Biologics, a new class of DMARD (Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drug).
  • Belimumab is used to treat some individuals with systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • It is usually considered for those with moderate disease activity or possibly kidney involvement.

What is the typical dose of belimumab?

  • It is either given as a monthly intravenous (IV) infusion, or as a needle self-injected under the skin once per week.

How does belimumab work?

  • The immune system is made up of many different parts. By interfering with the correct part, it is possible to decrease the inflammation being caused by lupus (SLE).
  • Belimumab works by blocking the activity of a B lymphocyte stimulator called BLyS.  This indirectly inhibits B cell survival, leading to decreased antibody production and reduced inflammation.

How soon will I feel the effects of IL-6 Blockers?

  • Belimumab can take 3-6 months before starting to gain benefit.

If I start belimumab, can I stop all my other DMARDs?

  • Belimumab may be used on its own, without other DMARDs.
  • However, whether or not you continue with other DMARDs is a decision between you and your rheumatologist.
  • Keep in mind: In most instances, your rheumatologist has recommended you start a Biologic because your lupus has not been well controlled. It is important to try to control your disease as best as possible first, which may mean continuing all DMARDs for some time, before trying to decrease them.

What are the possible side effects of Belimumab?

Side Effect Ways to Reduce Side Effects
  • Intravenous Infusion Reactions or injection reactions
  • If severe, the medication is stopped. However, certain medications can be given to prevent similar reactions from re-occurring.
  • Belimumab may increase your risk of developing severe infections.
  • Let your physician know if you are sick when you are supposed to receive your infusion or injection. They may discuss postponing it until you are better. Fevers and other severe illness should not be ignored. Discuss this with your doctor.
  • Belimumab can affect mood for some individuals.
  • Watch for changes in mood or behaviour and if you or someone close to you notices a change, please check with your rheumatologist right away.
  • Medication Interactions
  • Discuss vaccinations with your rheumatologist.
  • Live vaccines should be given prior to starting belimumab.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

  • If you miss your dose, let your physician know right away to see if they can arrange a new treatment time, if appropriate to do so.


For more information about belimumab, or for questions that are specific to your situation, always consult your physician.

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