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.
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.
See also How to Use section.
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.
Belimumab may increase your risk of getting a rare but very serious (sometimes fatal) brain infection (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy-PML). Get medical help right away if you develop any signs of PML, including: confusion, memory loss, loss of balance, difficulty talking/walking, vision changes.
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.
In the US -
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).
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.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: other drugs that weaken the immune system/increase the risk of infection (such as natalizumab, rituximab).
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Laboratory and/or medical tests may be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
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.
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 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).
Information last revised May 2014. Copyright(c) 2014 First Databank, Inc.
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