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Medications > Belimumab | Benlysta > Belimumab (Benlysta) – Pictopamphlet

BELIMUMAB (Benlysta) [bee-LIM-you-mab]

How to use this medication

What is it

Some people with lupus have too much protein called BLyS (Bliss). BLyS turns on special immune cells called B-cells that attack the body. Benlysta is a biologic medicine that blocks the activity of BLyS.

Given by intravenous (IV)  infusion

Belimumab is given by an intravenous infusion (IV) by a trained nurse.

Given once every 4 weeks

You will receive an infusion on week 0, week 2, and then every 4 weeks. Each infusion takes about 60 minutes.

Give it some time

Although some patients can feel better soon after receiving the medication, in others it can take a little longer even up to 3 or 4 months.

What you need to do

Get occasional blood tests

Have your blood tested occasionally (your doctor will tell you how often). This is important to monitor your lupus and make sure belimumab isn’t affecting your blood counts.

Don’t get pregnant or breastfeed

Belimumab has not been studied in pregnancy. Let your doctor know if you are planning to get pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.

Don’t take if you have an infection

Belimumab can make it harder for you to fight off infections. Call your doctor if:

  • You develop a fever
  • You think you have an infection
  • You are given antibiotics to treat an infection

Side effects & important things to know

Infusion reaction

Belimumab can rarely cause an allergic reaction during the infusion.

Nausea & diarrhea

Some people feel unwell with nausea & vomiting when they take belimumab. Belimumab can also cause diarrhea.

Headache

Belimumab can rarely cause a headache.

Heart problems

Tell your doctor if you develop chest pain or shortness of breath.

Depression

Let your doctor know if you experience worsening depression or thoughts of suicide while taking belimumab.

Surgery

Belimumab should be stopped before surgery.  It can be restarted once things have healed and there is no sign of infection.  If you are having surgery, talk to your doctor about belimumab.

Cancer

Very rare cases of cancer have been seen in patients receiving belimumab. It is not known if belimumab causes cancer. Tell your doctor if you have had cancer in the past.

When should I call my doctor

Please call if you need to stop

  • If you are concerned about any side effects
  • If you want to or have already decided to stop the medicine

Other Reasons to Call your Doctor:

Fever or think you have an infection

If you are having surgery

If you become pregnant

If you plan to get any vaccinations

Depression or Suicidal thoughts