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Health and Well Being

Lupus: Benlysta Coming to Canada


I usually refrain from touching base on drugs created by big Pharma to treat disease. However, considering the complications that Lupus disease creates and the lack of natural and mainstream treatment options available, I thought it would be a good idea to spread the word about Benlysta; the first Lupus treatment drug offered to Canadians in nearly 5 decades.

If you have Lupus, or know someone who has this complicated disease, you know just how tough this condition is to manage. Lupus has no direct treatment, and those affected with Lupus are essentially treated on an individual basis. This is because of Lupus’ ability to affect so many areas of the body, with each individual experiencing different symptoms at any given time. Dr. Murray Urowitz, a Lupus specialist, further explains;

“In a lupus patient, their immune system, which is supposed to protect them, actually turns against them so that the body starts making antibodies against its own tissue.” This makes lupus a very complicated autoimmune disease. These antibodies can cause severe inflammation in many different areas in the body, including the joints, organs, and the skin.

It is still unclear just how Lupus develops in those affected. It is known however, that Lupus affects nine times more women than men.

After almost 50 years of an absence in Lupus treatment, Canada has just approved a drug called Benlysta geared specifically for the treatment of systemic lupus erthematosus (SLE). It is scheduled to be ready for patients in Canada at some time in September of 2011.

Current treatments available today, such as corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, and other anti-inflammatory medications, are often used today but can have serious side effects aside from their positive benefits. Benlysta, however, takes aim at only one particular protein which nourishes the cells that produce the antibodies in those with Lupus. These proteins are called BLyS (B-lymphocyte stimulator). These assist antibodies (B cells) to thrive. Benlysta inhibits BLyS from being active which in turn prevents the activity of autoreactive B cells. Benlysta does have some side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, depression, and fever.

Despite the rumors that call Benlysta only somewhat effective, the outlook on Benlysta is mostly positive amongst those who suffer from lupus. Let’s hope this drug is effective is helping the thousands of Lupus sufferers throughout the country.

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