Belimumab is used with other medications to treat people with certain types of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus; an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy parts of the body such as joints, skin, blood vessels, and organs). Belimumab is in a class of medications called monoclonal antibodies. It works by blocking the activity of a certain protein in people with SLE. Belimumab may not work as well to treat African Americans who have SLE.
Belimumab comes as a powder to be mixed with sterile water and given intravenously (into a vein) over at least an hour by a doctor or nurse. It is usually given once every 2 weeks for the first three doses, and then once every 4 weeks. Your doctor will decide how often you are to receive belimumab based on your body's response to this medication.
Belimumab may cause serious reactions during an infusion and up to a day after receiving the infusion. A doctor or nurse will watch you closely while you are receiving the infusion and after the infusion to be sure you are not having a serious reaction to the medication. You may be given other medications to treat or help prevent reactions to belimumab. Tell your doctor or nurse immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms during or for about a day after you receive the infusion: rash; itching; hives; swelling of the face, eyes, mouth, throat, tongue, or lips; difficulty breathing or swallowing; wheezing or shortness of breath; anxiousness; flushing; dizziness; fainting; headache; nausea; fever; chills; seizures; muscle aches; and slow heart beat.
Belimumab helps control lupus but does not cure it. Your doctor will watch you carefully to see how well belimumab works for you. It may take some time before you feel the full benefit of belimumab. It is important to tell your doctor how you are feeling during your treatment.
Your doctor or pharmacist will give you the manufacturer's patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment with belimumab and each time you refill your prescription. Read the information carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm085729.htm or the manufacturer's website to obtain the Medication Guide.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
If you miss an appointment to receive belimumab, call your doctor as soon as possible.
difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
pain in the arms or legs
chest discomfort or pain
fever, sore throat, chills, cough, and other signs of infection
thinking of harming or killing yourself or others, or planning or trying to do so
new or worsening depression
unusual changes in your behavior or mood
frequent, painful, or difficult urination
cloudy or strong smelling urine
upper back or side pain
coughing up mucus
Belimumab may increase your risk of certain cancers. Studies have shown that people who received belimumab were more likely to die from various causes than those who did not take belimumab. Talk to your doctor about the risks of receiving this medication.
Belimumab may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Your doctor will store the medication in his or her office.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about belimumab.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Last Revised - 07/15/2011
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2014. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.