FDA OKs 1st Lupus Drug in 50 Years
But Benlysta was only slightly effective in clinical trials
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2011 6:26 AM CST
Benlysta is the first new drug approved to treat lupus in more than five decades.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The FDA has approved the first new drug to treat lupus since 1955, reports the New York Times, giving sufferers sanctioned options beyond aspirin, a malaria drug, corticosteroids, and a handful of other drugs used off-label with minimal success. Benlysta will be marketed by GlaxoSmithKline at an estimated per-patient cost of $35,000 a year. The drug, however, performed anemically in trials—one in 11 patients benefited, and some of the most severe sufferers of the immune system disease didn't participate. Nevertheless, says one expert, “It’s important to the field to have an approved product.’’