Saphnelo (Anifrolumab) is a biologic medicine that is used to treat lupus. It works by suppressing part of the body’s immune system.
Saphnelo works by blocking type 1 interferon, which is a type of signalling protein (called a cytokine), that is a driver of the disease activity in lupus.
Saphnelo is given as an intravenous infusion (IV) by a trained nurse in a clinic.
Patients receive Saphnelo by an IV infusion every 4 weeks.
Each infusion takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
Although some patients can feel better soon after receiving the medication, in others it can take longer. For some patients, it can take up to 3 or 4 months to start feeling the effects of Saphnelo.
The manufacturer of Saphnelo offers a support program to Canadian patients that are prescribed the medication:Patient support program enrolment forms
Important Tests and Risks
Saphnelo can make it a bit harder for people to fight off infections.
People taking this medicine should call their doctor they have a fever, think they have an infection, or have been prescribed antibiotics to treat an infection.
It is important for patients to coordinate with their doctor to stop treatment before any surgery. Saphnelo can be re-started once things have healed and there’s no sign of infection.
Patients should discuss all vaccinations with their doctor because some are not advisable to get while taking this medication.
Saphnelo may increase your risk of developing shingles. Please talk to your doctor about the shingles vaccine.
Saphnelo works by blocking the type 1 interferon (IFN-1) found on the surface of cells within the body. Type 1 interferon is a signalling protein, or cytokine, that plays an important role in the immune response.
Type 1 interferons are secreted by many types of immune cells usually in response to a viral infection.
Many patients with lupus have abnormally high levels of type 1 interferon activity. This can lead to inflammation in many parts of the body causing a person to feel unwell.
Saphnelo is a type of protein called a monoclonal antibody that blocks type 1 interferon from working. In blocking type 1 interferon, Saphnelo suppresses the body’s immune system. Although this suppression can make it slightly harder for patients to fight off infections, it also helps to stabilize an overactive immune system.
Saphnelo (anifrolumab) makes it slightly harder for patients to fight off infections.
Patients should advise their doctor if they develop a fever, think they might have an infection, or are given antibiotics to treat an infection.
Some of Saphnelo’s other potential side-effects include:
- Shingles - Saphnelo may increase your risk of developing shingles. Please talk to your doctor about the shingles vaccine.
- Infusion reaction – Saphnelo can rarely cause an allergic reaction during the infusion.
- Chest pain and let swelling – Some people receiving Saphnelo reported chest pain and leg swelling
- Depression – Let your doctor know if you experience worsening depression or thoughts of suicide while taking Saphnelo
- Malignancy – Very rare cases of cancer have been seen in patients receiving Saphnelo. It is not known if Saphnelo causes cancer. Tell your doctor if you have had cancer in the past.
Saphnelo has not been studied for safety in pregnancy. Patients should tell their doctor if they are planning to get pregnant, get pregnant, or if they are breastfeeding.
Patients should talk to their doctor if they are concerned about any side effects.
Patients who should NOT be taking Saphnelo include:
- Patients who have had a previous serious allergic reaction to Saphnelo (anifrolumab)
- Women who are pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or breast feeding
- Possibly patients who have cancer or have had a past history of certain cancers
Anyone who becomes pregnant while taking Saphnelo should notify their doctor immediately.
People taking Saphnelo should call their doctor if they feel sick and want to stop, or they are concerned about any side effects.
Other reasons to call a doctor while taking Saphnelo include:
- Fever or possible infection
- If another doctor has prescribed antibiotics to fight an infection
- Before having surgery
- Planning to get any vaccinations
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
Drug Identification Number (DIN)