Generic Name: belimumab (be LIM ue mab)
Brand Name: Benlysta
Medically reviewed on Aug 22, 2018
What is belimumab?
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 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.
When belimumab is injected into a vein, tell your caregiver right away if you feel anxious, nauseated, light-headed, itchy, or short of breath.
Belimumab affects your immune system. You may get infections more easily, even serious or fatal infections. Call your doctor if you have a fever, chills, cough with mucus, skin sores, increased urination, or burning when you urinate.
Report any new or worsening mental health symptoms to your doctor, such as: depression, mood or behavior changes, trouble sleeping, or thoughts about hurting yourself or others.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use belimumab if you are allergic to it.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had:
an active or chronic infection;
depression or mental illness;
suicidal thoughts or actions;
if you are using cyclophosphamide, biologic medicines, or other monoclonal antibody medicines.
Some people have thoughts about suicide while using belimumab. Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.
Belimumab may increase your risk of certain cancers by changing the way your immune system works. Ask your doctor about your individual risk.
Belimumab may harm an unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 4 months after your last dose. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant.
If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry to track the effects of belimumab on the baby.
It may not be safe to breast-feed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.
Belimumab is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.
How is belimumab given?
Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.
Belimumab is given as an infusion into a vein, usually every 2 to 4 weeks. A healthcare provider will give you this injection. The medicine must be given slowly, and the infusion can take about 1 hour to complete.
Belimumab is also injected under the skin, usually once per week. A healthcare provider may teach you how to properly use the medication by yourself. Do not inject belimumab into skin that is bruised, tender, red, or hard.
If you give injections at home, use the medicine on the same day each week. Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Do not use belimumab if you don't understand all instructions for proper use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.
Prepare your injection only when you are ready to give it. Do not use if the medicine has changed colors or has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.
You may be given other medications to help prevent serious side effects or an allergic reaction. Keep using these medicines for as long as your doctor has prescribed.
Store the prefilled syringe or injection pen in its original packaging in the refrigerator. Do not freeze or expose to light or high heat. Avoid shaking the medicine.
Take the package out of the refrigerator to let the medicine reach room temperature for 30 minutes before injecting your dose. Protect from light and do not shake or heat the medicine.
Do not use belimumab if it has been left at room temperature longer than 12 hours. Do not put the medicine back into the refrigerator. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.
Each prefilled syringe or injection pen is for one use only. Throw it away after one use, even if there is still medicine left inside.
Use a needle and syringe only once and then place them in a puncture-proof "sharps" container. Follow state or local laws about how to dispose of this container. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Use the missed dose as soon as you remember, and then use your next injection 1 week later. You can either restart a weekly schedule based on the new injection day, or you can go back to your regular injection schedule. Do not use 2 injections on the same day.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while using belimumab?
Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.
Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using belimumab. The vaccine may not work as well and may not fully protect you from disease. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), and zoster (shingles).
Belimumab side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives, itching; feeling anxious or light-headed; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Some side effects may occur during the injection. Tell your caregiver if you feel anxious, nauseated, light-headed, itchy, or have trouble breathing, severe headache, or skin redness and swelling.
You may get infections more easily, even serious or fatal infections. Stop using belimumab and call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as:
cough with mucus;
pain or burning when you urinate;
urinating more than usual; or
Belimumab may cause a serious brain infection that can lead to disability or death. Call your doctor right away if you have problems with speech, thought, vision, or muscle movement. These symptoms may start gradually and get worse quickly.
Also call your doctor at once if you have:
new or worsening depression, anxiety, mood or behavior changes, trouble sleeping, risk-taking behavior, or thoughts about hurting yourself or others;
wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing; or
chest pain or pressure, pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, nausea, sweating.
Common side effects may include:
fever, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, cough;
pain, itching, redness, or swelling where the injection was given;
pain in your arms or legs;
headache, depressed mood; or
sleep problems (insomnia).
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.
Belimumab dosing information
Usual Adult Dose for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus:
10 mg/kg IV at 2-week intervals for the first 3 doses and at 4-week intervals thereafter.
-Infuse over a 1-hour period.
-Consider premedication including an antihistamine, with or without an antipyretic, before the infusion.
Use: Treatment of adult patients with active, autoantibody-positive, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who are receiving standard therapy.
What other drugs will affect belimumab?
Other drugs may affect belimumab, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.
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.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.01.
More about belimumab
- Belimumab Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- En Español
- 25 Reviews
- Drug class: selective immunosuppressants
- Belimumab Auto-Injectors and Prefilled Syringes
- Belimumab Vials
- Belimumab Intravenous (Advanced Reading)
Other brands: Benlysta