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Report: Emerging Treatments Offer Improvements in Lupus Therapy

Thought leaders see only modest efficacy benefits with belimumab (Apr. 2)

In a new survey conducted by the research and advisory firm Decision Resources, U.S. rheumatologists indicate that new therapies for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that can positively differentiate themselves from current treatments in their effect on disease activity would be well received by physicians.

Based on currently available clinical data and thought-leader opinion, the emerging therapies epratuzumab (Immunomedics/UCB; a humanized monoclonal antibody) and forigerimod (Lupuzor, ImmuPharma; a peptide fragment analog) have the potential to offer improvements over intravenous (IV) belimumab (Benlysta, Human Genome Sciences/GlaxoSmithKline) in reducing disease activity. Thought leaders perceive belimumab to offer only modest efficacy benefits in patients who are refractory to conventional immunosuppressants.

According to the survey, both clinical data and thought-leader opinion suggest that the BAFF antagonist blisibimod (Anthera Pharmaceuticals) also shows the potential to reduce disease activity more effectively than IV belimumab in patients with severe SLE.

“Interviewed thought leaders consistently indicate a need for drugs with greater efficacy on disease activity, noting a variety of issues with currently available therapies,” said analyst Laura Croal, PhD. “In the case of the newest approved agent, IV belimumab, the efficacy benefit in moderate to severe SLE is perceived to be modest and slow to onset.”

The survey also finds that physicians in the U.S. identify new therapies with an improved effect on renal organ-domain scores as a key unmet need. Drugs typically used for the treatment of moderate-to-severe renal manifestations (including the SLE-related condition of lupus nephritis) are associated with a risk of serious adverse effects. Interviewed thought leaders acknowledged that the overall risk–benefit profile of these therapies limits their widespread use in patients with early and/or moderate signs of renal involvement.

Source: Decision Resources; April 2, 2013.

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