On Monday 8th May 2017 the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) published new advice accepting the restricted use of belimumab (Benlysta) by NHS Scotland for lupus patients. This advice was published following a re-submission with evidence supplied by GlaxoSmithKline (the producers of Benlysta) and LUPUS UK on behalf of patients.
Belimumab is the first drug approved to treat lupus in more than 50 years and is the first drug developed specifically for lupus since the disease was discovered. It is approved for adults with active, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) who are receiving other lupus medicines. It is a biologic therapy, delivered through an intravenous (IV) infusion. It works by reducing certain cells in the immune system that can make lupus active. Belimumab has been shown to modestly improve disease control in patients with SLE when used in addition to standard of care in two phase III studies.
“We are very grateful for the SMC’s new advice approving the restricted use of belimumab by NHS Scotland. This is an important decision because there is an absence of options for the group of lupus patients with high disease activity who do not respond to standard treatment. This also presents another treatment option for some people with lupus who have symptoms that are not adequately controlled by standard treatments alone or who are unable to tolerate the current standard treatments that are available”. Chris Maker, CEO of LUPUS UK.