A New Treatment For Lupus Symptoms
This is a disease that affects millions of people, mostly women, and is very difficult to treat. Most options now are pain relievers and anti-malarial drugs that suppress the immune system.
These can help cut the pain and swelling of flare-ups but do nothing to actually cure or control the sickness. The main benefit of the new drug is that it blocks a key protein responsible for the development of the cells that attack healthy ones. This is a huge step forward for those that are stricken by the disease.
The new drug is called Benlysta and it is the first treatment that deals directly with the disease instead of merely relieving the symptoms. In this disease, the immune system acts like it is over-stimulated and produces a large number of a specific type of white blood cells.
This causes arthritis like pain and swelling in the joints, fevers, rashes, sever fatigue, and problems with major organs. There is no cure for the disease and it lasts all life long.
The only options to manage Lupus Symptoms have side effects. Steroids, immune suppressing drugs, and drugs to slow antibodies are the only options for Lupus Treatment. This new discovery should offer more and better options for those who are seeking relief from this disease.
The drug is administered intravenously and should cut down on the number and severity of flare-ups. This means there will be less need for other drugs to manage the symptoms, but it is not a complete solution.
Early results from trials show a considerable reduction in the amount of other drugs that the test subjects needed. It is not a cure and it is not a perfect answer, but it is a step in the right direction.
There have been no other approved treatments since 1955, so it will be interesting how well patients respond.
There are some significant warnings that go along with this announcement. During the testing there were higher reports of infections, and even deaths, among the test subjects than there were in those who did not get the drug.
It also appears that using the medication will cost about $35,000 a year. This is a huge jump from the cost of the current treatment options.
There also appears to be an uneven distribution among those that will get the most benefit. Unfortunately, African-Americans, who are diagnosed with the disease most often, do not seem to benefit as much as others.
It appears that the drug is less effective the more it is used and it does not work as well against the most deadly forms of Lupus. Due to the drawbacks and the relatively recent development of this medication, some doctors may not prescribe it as an initial therapy.
It is not uncommon for new medications to undergo a period of evaluation before it is widely accepted. The good news is that there is now a new option, which is something that could not be said for a long time.