Belimumab is used together with other medicines to treat systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE (an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation).
Use Belimumab exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not use more or less than instructed by your doctor.
This medicine is administered once a week. Use it the same day each week.
Belimumab is to be injected subcutaneously (into the fatty layer under the skin, usually in the top of the thigh or abdomen area).
Your doctor or nurse will administer the injection for you. If you or a caregiver had been given the proper training on the correct injection techniques of Belimumab, you or your caregiver may do the administration.
How to use this medicine:
- Remove the medicine (spring-loaded or pre-filled syringe) from the refrigerator and prepare the other supplies you need (e.g. alcohol swab, gauze pad, or cotton balls).
- The medicine is contained in a sealed tray. Peel back the film covering of the tray and remove the medicine. Check the expiration date and visually inspect the medicine for presence of particulate matter or discolouration.
- Allow the medicine to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Choose the injection site (abdomen or thigh). Remember to rotate the injection sites. Do not inject into the same area all the time. New injection sites should be at least 1.5 inches away from the previous injection site. Do not inject within a 2 inches radius of the navel (belly button).
- Wash your hands before cleaning the injection site. Wipe the injection site with alcohol swab and let it dry.
- If you are given the spring-loaded syringe or the “autoinjector”, remove the ring cap first by pulling or twisting it off (clockwise or counter-clockwise). Position it over the injection site, firmly press it and hold it in place. You may hear a “click” at the start of the injection and see the purple indicator moving. Continue holding the autoinjector down until the purple indicator stopped moving (you will hear another “click” at this point).
- If you are given the pre-filled syringe, remove the needle cap first then hold the pre-filled syringe in your one hand and use your free hand to gently pinch the skin around the injection site. Insert the entire needle in the pinched area of the skin at a slight 45 degree angle using a dart-like motion. Release the pinched skin after the needle is completely inserted. Push the plunger all the way down until all the solution is injected. Allow the plunger to rise up by slowly moving your thumb back.
- Press a cotton ball or gauze over the injection site. Do not rub the injection site.
- Dispose your used needles and syringes according to your doctor or pharmacist’s instructions. Do not throw away in household trash.
Belimumab must be used regularly for it to be effective. Continue using this medicine even when you feel better. Do not stop using it unless instructed otherwise, as stopping it suddenly could worsen your condition.
Use the missed dose as soon as you remember, then return to your normal dosing schedule. You may also start a new weekly schedule from the day that the missed dose was administered.
DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.
If you often forget to take your medicine, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- severe infections
- severe active lupus nephritis (a type of SLE that causes inflammation of the kidneys)
- HIV infection
- history or current hepatitis B or C infection
- history of major organ transplant or stem cell/marrow transplant
- heart disease
- history of depression or mental disorders
- history of cancer
- hypogammaglobulinaemia (an immune disorder characterised by the reduction of antibodies that help fight infections)
It is important that you do not get pregnant while being treated with this medicine. You may wish to discuss birth control methods with your doctor or pharmacist. Avoid pregnancy during treatment and for at least 4 months after you stop taking this medicine.
Let your doctor know if you are breastfeeding.
Inform your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated. Do not receive any vaccinations without first asking your doctor.
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
Belimumab may cause any of the following side effects: nausea, diarrhoea, difficulty sleeping, limb pain, migraine, fever and upper respiratory tract infection (e.g. runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat).
You may also experience redness, itching, pain, swelling, bruising, or a small amount of blood loss at the injection site.
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- unusual changes in mood or behaviour (being too depressed, agitated, or having compulsive and impulsive behaviour)
- thoughts of self-harm
- mental slowness, memory problems, loss of vision, difficulty speaking, inability to coordinate movements
- signs of infection (e.g. persistent fever, chills)
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in the refrigerator, between 2-8 °C. Do not allow to freeze. If frozen, this medicine will become ineffective and should not be used.
Do not use this medicine if it becomes cloudy or if it has changed in colour.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.