Benlysta (belimumab), the first approved drug for systemic lupus in 56 years, has already grossed $59.2 million, averaging $2.3 million in sales per week since it received FDA approval less than a year ago, according to Human Genome Sciences (HGS).
This treatment for adult patients with active, autoantibody-positive systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is quickly spreading, and has already been approved in Canada and at least eight European countries.
In December 2011, HGS and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced that dosing of patients had been initiated in BLISS-SC, a phase III trial of the subcutaneous formulation of Benlysta. If this trial is successful and regulatory authorities agree, the subcutaneous formulation would make it possible for patients to self-administer Benlysta by injection once a week.
“We are pioneering a treatment in a market that has not seen a new option for patients in decades,” said H. Thomas Watkins, president and CEO of HGS. “Although we are still in the early adoption phase of our launch, our experience in the market to date reinforces our belief that Benlysta will ultimately play a major role in improving the standard of care for SLE patients.”