Belimumab (Benlysta)
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Belimumab (Benlysta)

PATIENT INFORMATION

MEDICATION GUIDE

BENLYSTA®
(ben-LIST-ah)
(belimumab) Injection for intravenous use

Read this Medication Guide before you start receiving BENLYSTA and before each treatment. There may be new information. This information does not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider about your medical condition or your treatment.

What is the most important information I should know about BENLYSTA?

BENLYSTA can cause serious side effects. Some of these side effects may cause death. It is not known if BENLYSTA causes these serious side effects. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the symptoms listed below while receiving BENLYSTA.

  1. Infections. Symptoms of an infection can include:
  2. Heart Problems. Symptoms of heart problems can include:
  3. Mental health problems and suicide. Symptoms of mental health problems can include:
    • thoughts of suicide or dying
    • attempt to commit suicide
    • trouble sleeping (insomnia)
    • new or worse anxiety
    • new or worse depression
    • acting on dangerous impulses
    • other unusual changes in your behavior or mood
    • thoughts of hurting yourself or others

What is BENLYSTA?

BENLYSTA is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) who are receiving other lupus medicines.

BENLYSTA contains belimumab which is in a group of medicines called monoclonal antibodies. Lupus is a disease of the immune system (the body system that fights infection). People with active lupus often have high levels of a certain protein in their blood. BENLYSTA binds to and limits the activity of the protein. When given together with other medicines for lupus, BENLYSTA decreases lupus disease activity more than other lupus medicines alone.

  • It is not known if BENLYSTA is safe and effective in people with severe active lupus nephritis or severe active central nervous system lupus.
  • It is not known if BENLYSTA is safe and effective in children.

Who should not receive BENLYSTA?

Do not receive BENLYSTA if you:

  • are allergic to belimumab or any of the ingredients in BENLYSTA. See the end of this Medication Guide for a complete list of ingredients in BENLYSTA.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before receiving BENLYSTA?

Before you receive BENLYSTA, tell 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. See “What is the most important information I should know about BENLYSTA?
  • 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 allergic to other medicines
  • are receiving other biologic medicines, monoclonal antibodies or IV infusions of cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®)
  • 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. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant during your treatment with BENLYSTA.
  • If you 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 decide if you will receive BENLYSTA or breastfeed. You should not do both.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of your medicines with you to show to your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine.

How will I receive BENLYSTA?

  • You will be given BENLYSTA by a healthcare provider through a needle placed in a vein (IV infusion). It takes about 1 hour to give you the full dose of BENLYSTA.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you how often you should receive BENLYSTA.
  • Your healthcare provider may give you medicines before you receive BENLYSTA to help reduce your chance of having a reaction. A healthcare provider will watch you closely while you are receiving BENLYSTA and after your infusion for signs of a reaction.

What are the possible side effects of BENLYSTA?

BENLYSTA can cause serious side effects.

  • See “What is the most important information I should know about BENLYSTA?”
  • Cancer. BENLYSTA may reduce the activity of your immune system. Medicines that affect the immune system may increase your risk of certain cancers.
  • Allergic (hypersensitivity) and infusion reactions. Serious allergic or infusion reactions can happen on the day of or the day after receiving BENLYSTA and may cause death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms of an allergic or infusion reaction:

Your healthcare provider will watch you closely while you are receiving BENLYSTA and after your infusion for signs of a reaction.

The most common side effects of BENLYSTA include:

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of BENLYSTA. For more information, ask your healthcare provider.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

General information about the safe and effective use of BENLYSTA

Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in a Medication Guide. Do not use BENLYSTA for a condition for which it was not prescribed.

This Medication Guide summarizes the most important information about BENLYSTA. For more information about BENLYSTA, talk with your healthcare provider.

You can ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for information about BENLYSTA that is written for healthcare professionals.

For more information about BENLYSTA, go to www.BENLYSTA.com or call 1-877423-6597.

What are the ingredients in BENLYSTA?

Active ingredient: belimumab.

Inactive ingredients: citric acid, polysorbate 80, sodium citrate, sucrose.

What are the possible side effects of belimumab (Benlysta)?

Some people receiving a belimumab injection have had a reaction to the infusion (when the medicine is injected into the vein). Tell your caregiver right away if you feel nauseated, light-headed, itchy, or have muscle pain, severe headache, or slow heartbeats.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • new or worsening depression, anxiety, mood or behavior changes, trouble...

Read All Potential Side Effects and See Pictures of Benlysta »

What are the precautions when taking belimumab (Benlysta)?

Before using belimumab, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: infections (current infections, infections that return), mental/mood problems (such as depression, thoughts of suicide), cancer.

Belimumab can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Therefore, wash your hands well to prevent the spread of infection. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you...

Read All Potential Precautions of Benlysta »

Last reviewed on RxList: 4/26/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

INDICATIONS

BENLYSTA® (belimumab) is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with active, autoantibody-positive, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who are receiving standard therapy.

Limitations of Use

The efficacy of BENLYSTA has not been evaluated in patients with severe active lupus nephritis or severe active central nervous system lupus. BENLYSTA has not been studied in combination with other biologics or intravenous cyclophosphamide. Use of BENLYSTA is not recommended in these situations.

DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION

Dosage Schedule

BENLYSTA is for intravenous infusion only and must be reconstituted and diluted prior to administration. Do not administer as an intravenous push or bolus.

The recommended dosage regimen is 10 mg/kg at 2-week intervals for the first 3 doses and at 4-week intervals thereafter. Reconstitute, dilute and administer as an intravenous infusion only, over a period of 1 hour. The infusion rate may be slowed or interrupted if the patient develops an infusion reaction. The infusion must be discontinued immediately if the patient experiences a serious hypersensitivity reaction [see CONTRAINDICATIONS, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Premedication Recommendations

Prior to dosing with BENLYSTA, consider administering premedication for prophylaxis against infusion reactions and hypersensitivity reactions. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Preparation of Solutions

BENLYSTA is provided as a lyophilized powder in a single-use vial for intravenous infusion only and should be reconstituted and diluted by a healthcare professional using aseptic technique as follows:

Reconstitution Instructions

1. Remove BENLYSTA from the refrigerator and allow to stand 10 to 15 minutes for the vial to reach room temperature.

2. Reconstitute the BENLYSTA powder with Sterile Water for Injection, USP, as follows. The reconstituted solution will contain a concentration of 80 mg/mL belimumab.

  • Reconstitute the 120 mg vial with 1.5 mL Sterile Water for Injection, USP.
  • Reconstitute the 400 mg vial with 4.8 mL Sterile Water for Injection, USP.

3. The stream of sterile water should be directed toward the side of the vial to minimize foaming. Gently swirl the vial for 60 seconds. Allow the vial to sit at room temperature during reconstitution, gently swirling the vial for 60 seconds every 5 minutes until the powder is dissolved. Do not shake. Reconstitution is typically complete within 10 to15 minutes after the sterile water has been added, but it may take up to 30 minutes. Protect the reconstituted solution from sunlight.

4. If a mechanical reconstitution device (swirler) is used to reconstitute BENLYSTA, it should not exceed 500 rpm and the vial swirled for no longer than 30 minutes.

5. Once reconstitution is complete, the solution should be opalescent and colorless to pale yellow, and without particles. Small air bubbles, however, are expected and acceptable.

Dilution Instructions

6. Dextrose intravenous solutions are incompatible with BENLYSTA. BENLYSTA should only be diluted in 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection, USP. Dilute the reconstituted product to250 mL in 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection, USP (normal saline) for intravenous infusion. From a 250-mL infusion bag or bottle of normal saline, withdraw and discard a volume equal to the volume of the reconstituted solution of BENLYSTA required for the patient's dose. Then add the required volume of the reconstituted solution of BENLYSTA into the infusion bag or bottle. Gently invert the bag or bottle to mix the solution. Any unused solution in the vials must be discarded.

7. Parenteral drug products should be inspected visually for particulate matter and discoloration prior to administration, whenever solution and container permit. Discard the solution if any particulate matter or discoloration is observed.

8. The reconstituted solution of BENLYSTA, if not used immediately, should be stored protected from direct sunlight and refrigerated at 2° to 8°C (36° to 46°F). Solutions of BENLYSTA diluted in normal saline may be stored at 2° to 8°C (36° to 46°F) or room temperature. The total time from reconstitution of BENLYSTA to completion of infusion should not exceed 8 hours.

9. No incompatibilities between BENLYSTA and polyvinylchloride or polyolefin bags have been observed.

Administration Instructions

  1. The diluted solution of BENLYSTA should be administered by intravenous infusion only, over a period of 1 hour.
  2. BENLYSTA should be administered by healthcare providers prepared to manage anaphylaxis. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
  3. BENLYSTA should not be infused concomitantly in the same intravenous line with other agents. No physical or biochemical compatibility studies have been conducted to evaluate the coadministration of BENLYSTA with other agents.

HOW SUPPLIED

Dosage Forms And Strengths

Single-use vials of belimumab lyophilized powder for injection:

  • 120 mg per vial
  • 400 mg per vial

Storage And Handling

BENLYSTA is a sterile, preservative-free lyophilized powder for reconstitution, dilution, and intravenous infusion provided in single-use glass vials with a latex-free rubber stopper and a flip-off seal. Each 5-mL vial contains 120 mg of belimumab. Each 20-mL vial contains 400 mg of belimumab.

BENLYSTA is supplied as follows

120 mg belimumab in a 5-mL single-use vial ...................NDC 49401-101-01
400 mg belimumab in a 20-mL single-use vial................. NDC 49401-102-01

Store vials of BENLYSTA refrigerated between 2° to 8°C (36° to 46°F). Vials should be protected from light and stored in the original carton until use. Do not freeze. Avoid exposure to heat. Do not use beyond the expiration date.

Manufactured by: Human Genome Sciences, Inc. Rockville, Maryland 20850 US License No. 1820. Marketed by: HUMAN GENOME SCIENCES, Human Genome Sciences, Inc. Rockville, MD 20850. GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. Issued: March 2012

Last reviewed on RxList: 4/6/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

SIDE EFFECTS

Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared with rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.

The following have been observed with BENLYSTA and are discussed in detail in the WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS section:

Clinical Trials Experience

The data described below reflect exposure to BENLYSTA plus standard of care compared with placebo plus standard of care in 2133 patients in 3 controlled studies. Patients received BENLYSTA at doses of 1 mg/kg (N=673), 4 mg/kg (N=111; Trial 1 only), or 10 mg/kg (N=674)or placebo (N=675) intravenously over a 1-hour period on Days 0, 14, 28, and then every 28 days. In two of the studies (Trial 1 and Trial 3), treatment was given for 48 weeks, while in the other study (Trial 2) treatment was given for 72 weeks[see Clinical Studies]. Because there was no apparent dose-related increase in the majority of adverse events observed with BENLYSTA, the safety data summarized below are presented for the 3 doses pooled, unless otherwise indicated; the adverse reaction table displays the results for the recommended dose of 10 mg/kg compared with placebo.

The population had a mean age of 39 (range 18-75), 94% were female, and 52% were Caucasian. In these trials, 93% of patients treated with BENLYSTA reported an adverse reaction compared with 92% treated with placebo.

The most common serious adverse reactions were serious infections (6.0% and 5.2% in the groups receiving BENLYSTA and placebo, respectively) [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

The most commonly-reported adverse reactions, occurring in > 5% of patients in clinical trials were nausea, diarrhea, pyrexia, nasopharyngitis, bronchitis, insomnia, pain in extremity, depression, migraine, and pharyngitis.

The proportion of patients who discontinued treatment due to any adverse reaction during the controlled clinical trials was 6.2% for patients receiving BENLYSTA and 7.1% for patients receiving placebo. The most common adverse reactions resulting in discontinuation of treatment ( > 1% of patients receiving BENLYSTA or placebo) were infusion reactions (1.6% BENLYSTA and 0.9% placebo), lupus nephritis (0.7% BENLYSTA and 1.2% placebo), and infections (0.7% BENLYSTA and 1.0% placebo).

Table 1 : lists adverse reactions, regardless of causality, occurring in at least 3% of patients with SLE who received BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg and at an incidence at least 1% greater than that observed with placebo in the 3 controlled studies.

Preferred Term BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg + Standard of Care
(n = 674)
%
Placebo + Standard of Care
(n = 675)
%
Nausea 15 12
Diarrhea 12 9
Pyrexia 10 8
Nasopharyngitis 9 7
Bronchitis 9 5
Insomnia 7 5
Pain in extremity 6 4
Depression 5 4
Migraine 5 4
Pharyngitis 5 3
Cystitis 4 3
Leukopenia 4 2
Gastroenteritis viral 3 1

Immunogenicity

In Trials 2 and 3, anti-belimumab antibodies were detected in 4 of 563 (0.7%) patients receiving BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg and in 27 of 559 (4.8%) patients receiving BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg. The reported frequency for the group receiving 10 mg/kg may underestimate the actual frequency due to lower assay sensitivity in the presence of high drug concentrations. Neutralizing antibodies were detected in 3 patients receiving BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg. Three patients with anti-belimumab antibodies experienced mild infusion reactions of nausea, erythematous rash, pruritus, eyelid edema, headache, and dyspnea; none of the reactions was life-threatening. The clinical relevance of the presence of anti-belimumab antibodies is not known.

The data reflect the percentage of patients whose test results were positive for antibodies to belimumab in specific assays. The observed incidence of antibody positivity in an assay is highly dependent on several factors, including assay sensitivity and specificity, assay methodology, sample handling, timing of sample collection, concomitant medications, and underlying disease. For these reasons, comparison of the incidence of antibodies to belimumab with the incidence of antibodies to other products may be misleading.

Postmarketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during postapproval use of BENLYSTA. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

Read the Benlysta (belimumab) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects »

DRUG INTERACTIONS

Formal drug interaction studies have not been performed with BENLYSTA. In clinical trials of patients with SLE, BENLYSTA was administered concomitantly with other drugs, including corticosteroids, antimalarials, immunomodulatory and immunosuppressive agents (including azathioprine, methotrexate, and mycophenolate), angiotensin pathway antihypertensives, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), and NSAIDs without evidence of a clinically meaningful effect of these concomitant medications on belimumab pharmacokinetics. The effect of belimumab on the pharmacokinetics of other drugs has not been evaluated [see Pharmacokinetics].

Last reviewed on RxList: 4/6/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

WARNINGS

Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.

PRECAUTIONS

Mortality

There were more deaths reported with BENLYSTA than with placebo during the controlledperiod of the clinical trials. Out of 2133 patients in 3 clinical trials, a total of 14 deaths occurred during the placebo-controlled, double-blind treatment periods: 3/675 (0.4%), 5/673 (0.7%),0/111 (0%), and 6/674 (0.9%) deaths in the placebo, BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg, BENLYSTA 4 mg/kg, and BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg groups, respectively. No single cause of death predominated. Etiologies included infection, cardiovascular disease and suicide.

Serious Infections

Serious and sometimes fatal infections have been reported in patients receiving immunosuppressive agents, including BENLYSTA. Physicians should exercise caution when considering the use of BENLYSTA in patients with chronic infections. Patients receiving any therapy for chronic infection should not begin therapy with BENLYSTA. Consider interrupting BENLYSTA therapy in patients who develop a new infection while undergoing treatment with BENLYSTA and monitor these patients closely.

In the controlled clinical trials, the overall incidence of infections was 71% in patients treated with BENLYSTA compared with 67% in patients who received placebo. The most frequent infections ( > 5% of patients receiving BENLYSTA) were upper respiratory tract infection, urinary tract infection, nasopharyngitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, and influenza. Serious infections occurred in 6.0% of patients treated with BENLYSTA and in 5.2% of patients who received placebo. The most frequent serious infections included pneumonia, urinary tract infection, cellulitis, and bronchitis. Infections leading to discontinuation of treatment occurred in 0.7% of patients receiving BENLYSTA and 1.0% of patients receiving placebo. Infections resulting in death occurred in 0.3% (4/1458) of patients treated with BENLYSTA and in 0.1% (1/675) ofpatients receiving placebo.

Malignancy

The impact of treatment with BENLYSTA on the development of malignancies is not known. In the controlled clinical trials, malignancies (including non-melanoma skin cancers) were reported in 0.4% of patients receiving BENLYSTA and 0.4% of patients receiving placebo. In the controlled clinical trials, malignancies, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, were observed in 0.2% (3/1458) and 0.3% (2/675) of patients receiving BENLYSTA and placebo, respectively. As with other immunomodulating agents, the mechanism of action of BENLYSTA could increase the risk for the development of malignancies.

Hypersensitivity Reactions, Including Anaphylaxis

Hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylaxis and death, have been reported in association with BENLYSTA. Delay in the onset of acute hypersensitivity reactions has been observed. Limited data suggest that patients with a history of multiple drug allergies or significant hypersensitivity may be at increased risk. In the controlled clinical trials, hypersensitivity reactions (occurring on the same day of infusion) were reported in 13% (191/1458) of patients receiving BENLYSTA and 11% (76/675) of patients receiving placebo. Anaphylaxis was observed in 0.6% (9/1458) of patients receiving BENLYSTA and 0.4% (3/675) of patients receiving placebo. Manifestations included hypotension, angioedema, urticaria or other rash, pruritus, and dyspnea. Due to overlap in signs and symptoms, it was not possible to distinguish between hypersensitivity reactions and infusion reactions in all cases. Some patients (13%) received premedication, which may have mitigated or masked a hypersensitivity response; however, there is insufficient evidence to determine whether premedication diminishes the frequency or severity of hypersensitivity reactions.

BENLYSTA should be administered by healthcare providers prepared to manage anaphylaxis. In the event of a serious reaction, administration of BENLYSTA must be discontinued immediately and appropriate medical therapy administered. Patients should be monitored during and for an appropriate period of time after administration of BENLYSTA. Patients should be informed of the signs and symptoms of a hypersensitivity reaction and instructed to seek immediate medical care should a reaction occur.

Infusion Reactions

In the controlled clinical trials, adverse events associated with the infusion (occurring on the same day of the infusion) were reported in 17% (251/1458) of patients receiving BENLYSTA and 15% (99/675) of patients receiving placebo. Serious infusion reactions (excluding hypersensitivity reactions) were reported in 0.5% of patients receiving BENLYSTA and 0.4% of patients receiving placebo and included bradycardia, myalgia, headache, rash, urticaria, and hypotension. The most common infusion reactions ( > 3% of patients receiving BENLYSTA) were headache, nausea, and skin reactions. Due to overlap in signs and symptoms, it was not possible to distinguish between hypersensitivity reactions and infusion reactions in all cases. Some patients (13%) received premedication, which may have mitigated or masked an infusion reaction; however there is insufficient evidence to determine whether premedication diminishes the frequency or severity of infusion reactions [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

BENLYSTA should be administered by healthcare providers prepared to manage infusion reactions. The infusion rate may be slowed or interrupted if the patient develops an infusion reaction. Healthcare providers should be aware of the risk of hypersensitivity reactions, which may present as infusion reactions, and monitor patients closely.

Depression

In the controlled clinical trials, psychiatric events were reported more frequently with BENLYSTA (16%) than with placebo (12%), related primarily to depression-related events (6.3% BENLYSTA and 4.7% placebo), insomnia (6.0% BENLYSTA and 5.3% placebo), and anxiety (3.9% BENLYSTA and 2.8% placebo). Serious psychiatric events were reported in 0.8% of patients receiving BENLYSTA (0.6% and 1.2% with 1 and 10 mg/kg, respectively) and 0.4% of patients receiving placebo. Serious depression was reported in 0.4% (6/1458) of patients receiving BENLYSTA and 0.1% (1/675) of patients receiving placebo. Two suicides (0.1%) were reported in patients receiving BENLYSTA. The majority of patients who reported serious depression or suicidal behavior had a history of depression or other serious psychiatric disorders and most were receiving psychoactive medications. It is unknown if BENLYSTA treatment is associated with increased risk for these events.

Patients receiving BENLYSTA should be instructed to contact their healthcare provider if they experience new or worsening depression, suicidal thoughts, or other mood changes.

Immunization

Live vaccines should not be given for 30 days before or concurrently with BENLYSTA as clinical safety has not been established. No data are available on the secondary transmission of infection from persons receiving live vaccines to patients receiving BENLYSTA or the effect of BENLYSTA on new immunizations. Because of its mechanism of action, BENLYSTA may interfere with the response to immunizations.

Concomitant Use with Other Biologic Therapies or Intravenous Cyclophosphamide

BENLYSTA has not been studied in combination with other biologic therapies, including B-cell targeted therapies, or intravenous cyclophosphamide. Therefore, use of BENLYSTA is not recommended in combination with biologic therapies or intravenous cyclophosphamide.

Patient Counseling Information

See FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide)

Advice for the Patient

Patients should be given the Medication Guide for BENLYSTA and provided an opportunity to read it prior to each treatment session. It is important that the patient's overall health be assessed at each infusion visit and any questions resulting from the patient's reading of the Medication Guide be discussed.

Mortality: Patients should be advised that more patients receiving BENLYSTA in the main clinical trials died than did patients receiving placebo treatment [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Serious Infections: Patients should be advised that BENLYSTA may decrease their ability to fight infections. Patients should be asked if they have a history of chronic infections and if they are currently on any therapy for an infection [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Patients should be instructed to tell their healthcare provider if they develop signs or symptoms of an infection.

Hypersensitivity/Anaphylactic and Infusion Reactions: Educate patients on the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, including wheezing, difficulty breathing, peri-oral or lingual edema, and rash. Patients should be instructed to immediately tell their healthcare provider if they experience symptoms of an allergic reaction during or after the administration of BENLYSTA [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Depression: Patients should be instructed to contact their healthcare provider if they experience new or worsening depression, suicidal thoughts or other mood changes [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Immunizations: Patients should be informed that they should not receive live vaccines while taking BENLYSTA. Response to vaccinations could be impaired by BENLYSTA [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Pregnancy and Nursing Mothers: Patients should be informed that BENLYSTA has not been studied in pregnant women or nursing mothers so the effects of BENLYSTA on pregnant women or nursing infants are not known. Patients should be instructed to tell their healthcare provider if they are pregnant, become pregnant, or are thinking about becoming pregnant [see Use in Specific Populations]. Patients should be instructed to tell their healthcare provider if they plan to breastfeed their infant [see Use in Specific Populations].

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Long-term animal studies have not been performed to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of belimumab. The mutagenic potential of belimumab was not evaluated.

Effects on male and female fertility have not been directly evaluated in animal studies.

Use In Specific Populations

Pregnancy

Pregnancy Category C

There are no adequate and well-controlled clinical studies using BENLYSTA in pregnant women. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, including BENLYSTA, can cross the placenta. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, BENLYSTA should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit to the mother justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Women of childbearing potential should use adequate contraception during treatment with BENLYSTA and for at least 4 months after the final treatment.

Nonclinical reproductive studies have been performed in pregnant cynomolgus monkeys receiving belimumab at doses of 0, 5 and 150 mg/kg by intravenous infusion (the high dose was approximately 9 times the anticipated maximum human exposure) every 2 weeks from gestation day 20 to 150. Belimumab was shown to cross the placenta. Belimumab was not associated with direct or indirect teratogenicity under the conditions tested. Fetal deaths were observed in 14%, 24% and 15% of pregnant females in the 0, 5 and 150 mg/kg groups, respectively. Infant deaths occurred with an incidence of 0%, 8% and 5%. The cause of fetal and infant deaths is not known. The relevance of these findings to humans is not known. Other treatment-related findings were limited to the expected reversible reduction of B cells in both dams and infants and reversible reduction of IgM in infant monkeys. B-cell numbers recovered after the cessation of belimumab treatment by about 1 year post-partum in adult monkeys and by 3 months of age in infant monkeys. IgM levels in infants exposed to belimumab in utero recovered by 6 months of age.

Pregnancy Registry

To monitor maternal-fetal outcomes of pregnant women exposed to BENLYSTA, a pregnancy registry has been established. Healthcare professionals are encouraged to register patients and pregnant women are encouraged to enroll themselves by calling 1-877-681-6296.

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether BENLYSTA is excreted in human milk or absorbed systemically after ingestion. However, belimumab was excreted into the milk of cynomolgus monkeys. Because maternal antibodies are excreted in human breast milk, a decision should be made whether to discontinue breastfeeding or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of breastfeeding to the infant and the importance of the drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness of BENLYSTA have not been established in children.

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of BENLYSTA did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 or over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Use with caution in elderly patients.

Race

In Trial 2 and Trial 3, response rates for the primary endpoint were lower for black subjects in the BENLYSTA group relative to black subjects in the placebo group [see Clinical Studies].

Use with caution in black/African-American patients.

Last reviewed on RxList: 4/6/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

OVERDOSE

There is no clinical experience with overdosage of BENLYSTA. Two doses of up to 20 mg/kg have been given by intravenous infusion to humans with no increase in incidence or severity of adverse reactions compared with doses of 1, 4, or 10 mg/kg.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

BENLYSTA is contraindicated in patients who have had anaphylaxis with belimumab.

Last reviewed on RxList: 4/6/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY

Mechanism of Action

BENLYSTA is a BLyS-specific inhibitor that blocks the binding of soluble BLyS, a B-cell survival factor, to its receptors on B cells. BENLYSTA does not bind B cells directly, but by binding BLyS, BENLYSTA inhibits the survival of B cells, including autoreactive B cells, and reduces the differentiation of B cells into immunoglobulin-producing plasma cells.

Pharmacodynamics

In Trial 1 and Trial 2 in which B cells were measured, treatment with BENLYSTA significantly reduced circulating CD19+, CD20+, naive, and activated B cells, plasmacytoid cells, and the SLE B-cell subset at Week 52. Reductions in naive and the SLE B-cell subset were observed as early as Week 8 and were sustained to Week 52. Memory cells increased initially and slowly declined toward baseline levels by Week 52. The clinical relevance of these effects on B cells has not been established.

Treatment with BENLYSTA led to reductions in IgG and anti-dsDNA, and increases in complement (C3 and C4). These changes were observed as early as Week 8 and were sustained through Week 52. The clinical relevance of normalizing these biomarkers has not been definitively established.

Pharmacokinetics

The pharmacokinetic parameters displayed in Table 2 are based on population parameter estimates which are specific to the 563 patients who received belimumab 10 mg/kg in Trials 2 and 3 [see Clinical Studies].

Table 2: Population Pharmacokinetic Parameters in Patients with SLE after Intravenous Infusion of BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg1

Pharmacokinetic Parameter Population Estimates
(n = 563)
Peak concentration (Cmax, μg/mL) 313
Area under the curve (AUC0-∞, day •μg/mL) 3,083
Distribution half-life (t½, days) 1.75
Terminal half-life (t½, days) 19.4
Systemic clearance (CL, mL/day) 215
Volume of distribution (Vss, L) 5.29
1Intravenous infusions were administered at 2-week intervals for the first 3 doses and at 4-week intervals thereafter.

Drug Interactions

No formal drug interaction studies have been conducted with belimumab. Concomitant use of mycophenolate, azathioprine, methotrexate, antimalarials, NSAIDs, aspirin, and HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors did not significantly influence belimumab pharmacokinetics. Coadministration of steroids and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors resulted in an increase of systemic clearance of belimumab that was not clinically significant because the magnitude was well within the range of normal variability of clearance. The effect of belimumab on the pharmacokinetics of other drugs has not been evaluated.

Special Populations

The following information is based on the population pharmacokinetic analysis.

Age: Age did not significantly influence belimumab pharmacokinetics in the study population, where the majority of subjects (70%) were between 18 and 45 years of age. No pharmacokinetic data are available in pediatric patients. Limited pharmacokinetic data are available for elderly patients as only 1.4% of the subjects included in the pharmacokinetic analysis were 65 years of age or older [see Use In Specific Populations].

Gender: Gender did not significantly influence belimumab pharmacokinetics in the largely (94%) female study population.

Race: Race did not significantly influence belimumab pharmacokinetics. The racial distribution was 53% white/Caucasian, 16% Asian, 16% Alaska native/American Indian, and 14% black/African-American.

Renal Impairment: No formal studies were conducted to examine the effects of renal impairment on the pharmacokinetics of belimumab. Belimumab has been studied in a limited number of patients with SLE and renal impairment (261 subjects with moderate renal impairment, creatinine clearance > 30 and < 60 mL/min; 14 subjects with severe renal impairment, creatinine clearance > 15 and < 30 mL/min). Although increases in creatinine clearance and proteinuria ( > 2 g/day) increased belimumab clearance, these effects were within the expected range of variability. Therefore, dosage adjustment in patients with renal impairment is not recommended.

Hepatic Impairment: No formal studies were conducted to examine the effects of hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics of belimumab. Belimumab has not been studied in patients with severe hepatic impairment. Baseline ALT and AST levels did not significantly influence belimumab pharmacokinetics.

Clinical Studies

The safety and effectiveness of BENLYSTA were evaluated in three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies involving 2133 patients with SLE according to the American College of Rheumatology criteria (Trial 1, 2, and 3). Patients with severe active lupus nephritis and severe active CNS lupus were excluded. Patients were on a stable standard of care SLE treatment regimen comprising any of the following (alone or in combination): corticosteroids, antimalarials, NSAIDs, and immunosuppressives. Use of other biologics and intravenous cyclophosphamide were not permitted.

Trial 1: BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg, 4 mg/kg, 10 mg/kg

Trial 1 enrolled 449 patients and evaluated doses of 1, 4, and 10 mg/kg BENLYSTA plus standard of care compared with placebo plus standard of care over 52 weeks in patients with SLE. Patients had to have a SELENA-SLEDAI score of > 4 at baseline and a history of autoantibodies (anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) and/or anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA), but 28% of the population was autoantibody negative at baseline. The co-primary endpoints were percent change in SELENA-SLEDAI score at Week 24 and time to first flare over 52 weeks. No significant differences between any of the BENLYSTA groups and the placebo group were observed. Exploratory analysis of this study identified a subgroup of patients (72%), who were autoantibody positive, in whom BENLYSTA appeared to offer benefit. The results of this study informed the design of Trials 2 and 3 and led to the selection of a target population and indication that is limited to autoantibody-positive SLE patients.

Trials 2 and 3: BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg

Trials 2 and 3 were randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in patients with SLE that were similar in design except duration - Trial 2 was 76 weeks duration and Trial 3 was 52 weeks duration. Eligible patients had active SLE disease, defined as a SELENA-SLEDAI score > 6, and positive autoantibody test results at screening. Patients were excluded from the study if they had ever received treatment with a B-cell targeted agent or if they were currently receiving other biologic agents. Intravenous cyclophosphamide was not permitted within the previous 6 months or during study. Trial 2 was conducted primarily in North America and Europe. Trial 3 was conducted in South America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Baseline concomitant medications included corticosteroids (Trial 2: 76%, Trial 3: 96%), immunosuppressives (Trial 2: 56%, Trial 3: 42%; including azathioprine, methotrexate and mycophenolate), and antimalarials (Trial 2: 63%, Trial 3: 67%). Most patients ( > 70%) were receiving 2 or more classes of SLE medications.

In Trial 2 and Trial 3, more than 50% of patients had 3 or more active organ systems at baseline. The most common active organ systems at baseline based on SELENA-SLEDAI were mucocutaneous (82% in both studies); immunology (Trial 2: 74%, Trial 3: 85%); and musculoskeletal (Trial 2: 73%, Trial 3: 59%). Less than 16% of patients had some degree of renal activity and less than 7% of patients had activity in the vascular, cardio-respiratory, or CNS systems.

At screening, patients were stratified by disease severity based on their SELENA-SLEDAI score ( ≤ 9 vs ≥ 10), proteinuria level ( < 2 g/24 hr vs ≥ 2 g/24 hr), and race (African or Indigenous- American descent vs. other), and then randomly assigned to receive BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg, BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg, or placebo in addition to standard of care. The patients were administered study medication intravenously over a 1-hour period on Days 0, 14, 28, and then every 28 days for 48 weeks in Trial 3 and for 72 weeks in Trial 2.

The primary efficacy endpoint was a composite endpoint (SLE Responder Index or SRI) that defined response as meeting each of the following criteria at Week 52 compared with baseline:

  • ≥ 4-point reduction in the SELENA-SLEDAI score, and
  • no new British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) A organ domain score or 2 new BILAG B organ domain scores, and
  • no worsening ( < 0.30-point increase) in Physician's Global Assessment (PGA) score.

The SRI uses the SELENA-SLEDAI score as an objective measure of reduction in global disease activity; the BILAG index to ensure no significant worsening in any specific organ system; and the PGA to ensure that improvements in disease activity are not accompanied by worsening of the patient's condition overall.

In both Trials 2 and 3, the proportion of SLE patients achieving an SRI response, as defined for the primary endpoint, was significantly higher in the BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg group than in the placebo group. The effect on the SRI was not consistently significantly different for the BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg group relative to placebo in both trials. The 1 mg/kg dose is not recommended. The trends in comparisons between the treatment groups for the rates of response for the individual components of the endpoint were generally consistent with that of the SRI (Table 3). At Week 76 in Trial 2, the SRI response rate with BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg was not significantly different from that of placebo (39% and 32%, respectively).

Table 3: Clinical Response Rate in Patients with SLE After 52 Weeks of Treatment

Response1 Trial 2 Trial 3
Placebo + Standard of Care
(n = 275)
BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg + Standard of Care2
(n = 271)
BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg + Standard of Care
(n = 273)
Placebo + Standard of Care
(n = 287)
BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg + Standard of Care2
(n = 288)
BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg + Standard of Care
(n = 290)
SLE Responder Index 34% 41%
(p = 0.104)
43%
(p = 0.021)
44% 51%
(p = 0.013)
58%
(p < 0.001)
Odds Ratio (95% CI) vs. placebo 1.3
(0.9, 1.9)
1.5
(1.1, 2.2)
1.6
(1.1, 2.2)
1.8
(1.3, 2.6)
Components of SLE Responder Index
Percent of patients with reduction in SELENA-SLEDAI ≥ 4 36% 43% 47% 46% 53% 58%
Percent of patients with no worsening by BILAG index 65% 75% 69% 73% 79% 81%
Percent of patients with no worsening by PGA 63% 73% 69% 69% 79% 80%
1Patients dropping out of the study early or experiencing certain increases in background medication were considered as failures in these analyses. In both studies, a higher proportion of placebo patients were considered as failures for this reason as compared to the BENLYSTA groups.
2The 1 mg/kg dose is not recommended.

The reduction in disease activity seen in the SRI was related primarily to improvement in the most commonly involved organ systems namely, mucocutaneous, musculoskeletal, and immunology.

Effect in Black/African-American Patients

Exploratory sub-group analyses of SRI response rate in patients of black race were performed. In Trial 2 and Trial 3 combined, the SRI response rate in black patients (N=148) in the BENLYSTA groups was less than that in the placebo group (22/50 or 44% for placebo, 15/48 or 31% for BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg, and 18/50 or 36% for BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg). In Trial 1, black patients (N=106) in the BENLYSTA groups did not appear to have a different response than the rest of the study population. Although no definitive conclusions can be drawn from these subgroup analyses, caution should be used when considering BENLYSTA treatment in black/African-American SLE patients.

Effect on Concomitant Steroid Treatment

In Trial 2 and Trial 3, 46% and 69% of patients, respectively, were receiving prednisone at doses > 7.5 mg/day at baseline. The proportion of patients able to reduce their average prednisone dose by at least 25% to < 7.5 mg/day during Weeks 40 through 52 was not consistently significantly different for BENLYSTA relative to placebo in both trials. In Trial 2, 17% of patients receiving BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg and 19% of patients receiving BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg achieved this level of steroid reduction compared with 13% of patients receiving placebo. In Trial 3, 19%, 21%, and 12% of patients receiving BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg, BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg, and placebo, respectively, achieved this level of steroid reduction.

Effect on Severe SLE Flares

The probability of experiencing a severe SLE flare, as defined by a modification of the SELENA Trial flare criteria which excluded severe flares triggered only by an increase of the SELENA- SLEDAI score to > 12, was calculated for both Trials 2 and 3. The proportion of patients having at least 1 severe flare over 52 weeks was not consistently significantly different for BENLYSTA relative to placebo in both trials. In Trial 2, 18% of patients receiving BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg and 16% of patients receiving BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg had a severe flare compared with 24% of patients receiving placebo. In Trial 3, 14%, 18%, and 23% of patients receiving BENLYSTA 10 mg/kg, BENLYSTA 1 mg/kg and placebo, respectively, had a severe flare.

Last reviewed on RxList: 4/6/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

PATIENT INFORMATION

MEDICATION GUIDE

BENLYSTA®
(ben-LIST-ah)
(belimumab) Injection for intravenous use

Read this Medication Guide before you start receiving BENLYSTA and before each treatment. There may be new information. This information does not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider about your medical condition or your treatment.

What is the most important information I should know about BENLYSTA?

BENLYSTA can cause serious side effects. Some of these side effects may cause death. It is not known if BENLYSTA causes these serious side effects. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the symptoms listed below while receiving BENLYSTA.

  1. Infections. Symptoms of an infection can include:
  2. Heart Problems. Symptoms of heart problems can include:
  3. Mental health problems and suicide. Symptoms of mental health problems can include:
    • thoughts of suicide or dying
    • attempt to commit suicide
    • trouble sleeping (insomnia)
    • new or worse anxiety
    • new or worse depression
    • acting on dangerous impulses
    • other unusual changes in your behavior or mood
    • thoughts of hurting yourself or others

What is BENLYSTA?

BENLYSTA is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) who are receiving other lupus medicines.

BENLYSTA contains belimumab which is in a group of medicines called monoclonal antibodies. Lupus is a disease of the immune system (the body system that fights infection). People with active lupus often have high levels of a certain protein in their blood. BENLYSTA binds to and limits the activity of the protein. When given together with other medicines for lupus, BENLYSTA decreases lupus disease activity more than other lupus medicines alone.

  • It is not known if BENLYSTA is safe and effective in people with severe active lupus nephritis or severe active central nervous system lupus.
  • It is not known if BENLYSTA is safe and effective in children.

Who should not receive BENLYSTA?

Do not receive BENLYSTA if you:

  • are allergic to belimumab or any of the ingredients in BENLYSTA. See the end of this Medication Guide for a complete list of ingredients in BENLYSTA.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before receiving BENLYSTA?

Before you receive BENLYSTA, tell 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. See “What is the most important information I should know about BENLYSTA?
  • 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 allergic to other medicines
  • are receiving other biologic medicines, monoclonal antibodies or IV infusions of cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®)
  • 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. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant during your treatment with BENLYSTA.
  • If you 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 decide if you will receive BENLYSTA or breastfeed. You should not do both.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of your medicines with you to show to your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine.

How will I receive BENLYSTA?

  • You will be given BENLYSTA by a healthcare provider through a needle placed in a vein (IV infusion). It takes about 1 hour to give you the full dose of BENLYSTA.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you how often you should receive BENLYSTA.
  • Your healthcare provider may give you medicines before you receive BENLYSTA to help reduce your chance of having a reaction. A healthcare provider will watch you closely while you are receiving BENLYSTA and after your infusion for signs of a reaction.

What are the possible side effects of BENLYSTA?

BENLYSTA can cause serious side effects.

  • See “What is the most important information I should know about BENLYSTA?”
  • Cancer. BENLYSTA may reduce the activity of your immune system. Medicines that affect the immune system may increase your risk of certain cancers.
  • Allergic (hypersensitivity) and infusion reactions. Serious allergic or infusion reactions can happen on the day of or the day after receiving BENLYSTA and may cause death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms of an allergic or infusion reaction:

Your healthcare provider will watch you closely while you are receiving BENLYSTA and after your infusion for signs of a reaction.

The most common side effects of BENLYSTA include:

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of BENLYSTA. For more information, ask your healthcare provider.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

General information about the safe and effective use of BENLYSTA

Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in a Medication Guide. Do not use BENLYSTA for a condition for which it was not prescribed.

This Medication Guide summarizes the most important information about BENLYSTA. For more information about BENLYSTA, talk with your healthcare provider.

You can ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for information about BENLYSTA that is written for healthcare professionals.

For more information about BENLYSTA, go to www.BENLYSTA.com or call 1-877423-6597.

What are the ingredients in BENLYSTA?

Active ingredient: belimumab.

Inactive ingredients: citric acid, polysorbate 80, sodium citrate, sucrose.

Last reviewed on RxList: 4/6/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

>

PATIENT INFORMATION

MEDICATION GUIDE

BENLYSTA®
(ben-LIST-ah)
(belimumab) Injection for intravenous use

Read this Medication Guide before you start receiving BENLYSTA and before each treatment. There may be new information. This information does not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider about your medical condition or your treatment.

What is the most important information I should know about BENLYSTA?

BENLYSTA can cause serious side effects. Some of these side effects may cause death. It is not known if BENLYSTA causes these serious side effects. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the symptoms listed below while receiving BENLYSTA.

  1. Infections. Symptoms of an infection can include:
  2. Heart Problems. Symptoms of heart problems can include:
  3. Mental health problems and suicide. Symptoms of mental health problems can include:
    • thoughts of suicide or dying
    • attempt to commit suicide
    • trouble sleeping (insomnia)
    • new or worse anxiety
    • new or worse depression
    • acting on dangerous impulses
    • other unusual changes in your behavior or mood
    • thoughts of hurting yourself or others

What is BENLYSTA?

BENLYSTA is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) who are receiving other lupus medicines.

BENLYSTA contains belimumab which is in a group of medicines called monoclonal antibodies. Lupus is a disease of the immune system (the body system that fights infection). People with active lupus often have high levels of a certain protein in their blood. BENLYSTA binds to and limits the activity of the protein. When given together with other medicines for lupus, BENLYSTA decreases lupus disease activity more than other lupus medicines alone.

  • It is not known if BENLYSTA is safe and effective in people with severe active lupus nephritis or severe active central nervous system lupus.
  • It is not known if BENLYSTA is safe and effective in children.

Who should not receive BENLYSTA?

Do not receive BENLYSTA if you:

  • are allergic to belimumab or any of the ingredients in BENLYSTA. See the end of this Medication Guide for a complete list of ingredients in BENLYSTA.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before receiving BENLYSTA?

Before you receive BENLYSTA, tell 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. See “What is the most important information I should know about BENLYSTA?
  • 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 allergic to other medicines
  • are receiving other biologic medicines, monoclonal antibodies or IV infusions of cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®)
  • 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. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant during your treatment with BENLYSTA.
  • If you 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 decide if you will receive BENLYSTA or breastfeed. You should not do both.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of your medicines with you to show to your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine.

How will I receive BENLYSTA?

  • You will be given BENLYSTA by a healthcare provider through a needle placed in a vein (IV infusion). It takes about 1 hour to give you the full dose of BENLYSTA.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you how often you should receive BENLYSTA.
  • Your healthcare provider may give you medicines before you receive BENLYSTA to help reduce your chance of having a reaction. A healthcare provider will watch you closely while you are receiving BENLYSTA and after your infusion for signs of a reaction.

What are the possible side effects of BENLYSTA?

BENLYSTA can cause serious side effects.

  • See “What is the most important information I should know about BENLYSTA?”
  • Cancer. BENLYSTA may reduce the activity of your immune system. Medicines that affect the immune system may increase your risk of certain cancers.
  • Allergic (hypersensitivity) and infusion reactions. Serious allergic or infusion reactions can happen on the day of or the day after receiving BENLYSTA and may cause death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms of an allergic or infusion reaction:

Your healthcare provider will watch you closely while you are receiving BENLYSTA and after your infusion for signs of a reaction.

The most common side effects of BENLYSTA include:

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of BENLYSTA. For more information, ask your healthcare provider.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

General information about the safe and effective use of BENLYSTA

Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in a Medication Guide. Do not use BENLYSTA for a condition for which it was not prescribed.

This Medication Guide summarizes the most important information about BENLYSTA. For more information about BENLYSTA, talk with your healthcare provider.

You can ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for information about BENLYSTA that is written for healthcare professionals.

For more information about BENLYSTA, go to www.BENLYSTA.com or call 1-877423-6597.

What are the ingredients in BENLYSTA?

Active ingredient: belimumab.

Inactive ingredients: citric acid, polysorbate 80, sodium citrate, sucrose.

Last reviewed on RxList: 4/6/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Disclaimer

Benlysta Consumer

IMPORTANT: HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION: This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.

BELIMUMAB - INJECTION

(be-LIM-ue-mab)

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Benlysta

USES: This medication is used to treat a certain type of lupus, systemic lupus erythematosus, in patients who are receiving other lupus medicines. It works by binding to a protein (found in high levels in patients with active lupus) in the blood and limiting the activity of the protein. It helps decrease the symptoms of lupus. Belimumab is a type of medication called a monoclonal antibody.

HOW TO USE: Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start using belimumab and each time you get a treatment. Discuss the risks and benefits of belimumab treatment. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

This medication is given by injection into a vein by a health care professional. It should be injected slowly over 1 hour. The first 3 doses are given every 2 weeks. After the third dose, it is usually given every 4 weeks, or as directed by your doctor. The dosage is based on your weight.

Your doctor may prescribe other medications for you to take before the start of your treatment to help prevent serious side effects.

This medication may cause very serious reactions during or after treatment. These reactions occur more often during the first and second treatments. Your doctor will monitor you closely. If you have a reaction, your treatment will be temporarily stopped. Tell your doctor or nurse immediately if any of these effects occur: headache, slow heartbeat, muscle pain, dizziness/fainting, nausea, or rash/itching.

Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. It may help to mark your calendar with a reminder.

Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.

Disclaimer

Benlysta Consumer (continued)

SIDE EFFECTS: See also How to Use section.

Nausea, diarrhea, or trouble sleeping may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: mental/mood changes (such as new/worsening depression, thoughts of suicide), signs of cancer (such as fever, night sweats, unusual tiredness, unexplained weight loss, swollen glands, unusual lumps/growths).

This medication can lower your body's ability to fight an infection. You may be more likely to get serious infections such as pneumonia, urinary tract infection, and skin infections. It may also be harder to fight an infection you already have. Tell your doctor right away if you develop signs of a serious infection while using this drug, such as: fever, chills, sore throat, cough, pain or burning with urination, urinating often, bloody diarrhea, coughing up mucus.

Get medical help right away if you have any serious side effects, including: heart problems (such as chest/jaw/left arm pain, shortness of breath, unusual sweating, dizziness).

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

In the US -

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

Read the Benlysta (belimumab) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects »

PRECAUTIONS: Before using belimumab, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: infections (current infections, infections that return), mental/mood problems (such as depression, thoughts of suicide), cancer.

Belimumab can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Therefore, wash your hands well to prevent the spread of infection. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details.

Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor. Tell your doctor if you have had any recent immunizations. Avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose).

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).

During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits, and reliable forms of birth control with your doctor. The manufacturer recommends the use of reliable forms of birth control during treatment and for at least 4 months after your last treatment.

It is unknown if this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Disclaimer

Benlysta Consumer (continued)

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.

A product that may interact with this drug is: natalizumab.

OVERDOSE: If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call the US National Poison Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.

NOTES: Laboratory and/or medical tests may be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.

MISSED DOSE: For the best possible benefit, it is important to receive each scheduled dose of this medication as directed. If you miss a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist immediately to establish a new dosing schedule.

STORAGE: Not applicable. This medication is given in a clinic and will not be stored at home.

MEDICAL ALERT: Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-800-854-1166 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).

Information last revised January 2012. Copyright(c) 2012 First Databank, Inc.

Benlysta Patient Information Including Side Effects

Brand Names: Benlysta

Generic Name: belimumab (Pronunciation: be LIM ue mab)

What is belimumab (Benlysta)?

Belimumab is a monoclonal antibody that affects the actions of the body's immune system. Monoclonal antibodies are made to target and destroy only certain cells in the body. This may help to protect healthy cells from damage.

Belimumab is used in to treat active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in adults.

Belimumab is not for use in people who have severe kidney problems caused by SLE, or have active SLE that affects the central nervous system (brain, nerves, and spinal cord).

Belimumab may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of belimumab (Benlysta)?

Some people receiving a belimumab injection have had a reaction to the infusion (when the medicine is injected into the vein). Tell your caregiver right away if you feel nauseated, light-headed, itchy, or have muscle pain, severe headache, or slow heartbeats.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • new or worsening depression, anxiety, mood or behavior changes, trouble sleeping, or thoughts about hurting yourself or others;
  • chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling.
  • wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing; or

Serious and sometimes fatal infections may occur during treatment with belimumab. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as:

  • fever, chills, flu symptoms, night sweats, weight loss;
  • increased urination, pain or burning when you urinate;
  • cough with yellow or green mucus, stabbing chest pain, feeling short of breath;
  • swelling, pain, tenderness, or redness anywhere on your body; or
  • bloody diarrhea.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain;
  • mild pain in your arms or legs; or
  • mild cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the Benlysta (belimumab) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects »

What is the most important information I should know about belimumab (Benlysta)?

You should not use belimumab if you are allergic to it.

Before you receive belimumab, tell your doctor if you have an active or chronic infection, a history of cancer, or a history of depression or mental illness.

Serious and sometimes fatal infections may occur during treatment with belimumab. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as fever, chills, flu symptoms, night sweats, pain or burning when you urinate, cough with mucus, stabbing chest pain, feeling short of breath, bloody diarrhea, or swelling, pain, tenderness, or redness anywhere on your body.

Belimumab can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections. Your blood may need to be tested often. Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections.

Avoid being near people who have colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses. Contact your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection. Do not receive a "live" vaccine within 30 days before or after you are treated with belimumab.

You may have thoughts about suicide while receiving belimumab, especially if you have a history of suicidal thoughts or actions. Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: depression, anxiety, mood or behavior changes, trouble sleeping, or thoughts about hurting yourself or others.

Side Effects Centers

Benlysta Patient Information including How Should I Take

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving belimumab (Benlysta)?

You should not use belimumab if you are allergic to it.

To make sure you can safely receive belimumab, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • an active or chronic infection;
  • a history of cancer; or
  • a history of depression or mental illness.

You may have thoughts about suicide while receiving belimumab, especially if you have a history of suicidal thoughts or actions.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether belimumab will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of belimumab on the baby.

It is not known whether belimumab passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using belimumab.

How is belimumab given (Benlysta)?

Belimumab is injected into a vein through an IV. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting. Belimumab must be given slowly, and the IV infusion can take about an hour to complete.

The first 3 doses of belimumab are given 2 weeks apart. Then the injections are given every 4 weeks. Your dosing schedule may be different. Follow your doctor's instructions.

You may be given other medications to prevent certain side effects of belimumab.

Side Effects Centers

Benlysta Patient Information including If I Miss a Dose

What happens if I miss a dose (Benlysta)?

Contact your doctor if you miss an appointment for your belimumab injection.

What happens if I overdose (Benlysta)?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while receiving belimumab (Benlysta)?

Avoid being near people who have colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses.

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while you are being treated with belimumab. The vaccine may not work as well during this time, and may not fully protect you from disease. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), oral polio, rotavirus, smallpox, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), H1N1 influenza, and nasal flu vaccine.

What other drugs will affect belimumab (Benlysta)?

Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:

  • cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan); or
  • drugs that weaken your immune system such as cancer medicine, steroids, and medicines to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ.

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with belimumab. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about belimumab.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

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Side Effects Centers

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