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Sustained Efficacy Is Among Key Unmet Needs for New SLE Treatments

Physicians wish belimumab had wider indication (Apr. 25)

BioTrends Research Group, a research and advisory firm based in Exton, Pennsylvania, finds that the top five unmet needs for new systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) therapies are long-term safety, the ability to reduce disease activity/flares, sustained efficacy, successful trials in lupus patients, and steroid-sparing benefits.

Surveyed rheumatologists in the U.S. indicated that a steroid-sparing effect is an important benefit in a new drug for SLE, based on their concerns about long-term steroid use. Generally speaking, rheumatologists were dissatisfied with current therapies for severe forms of SLE, and only one in three rheumatologists agreed that their patients are optimally managed in terms of controlling the signs and symptoms of severe SLE.

The survey also finds that many physicians who have not prescribed Benlysta (belimumab, GlaxoSmithKline/Human Genome Sciences) since it was approved by the FDA 2 years ago feel that the primary obstacle to using the drug is its narrow indication. Many of the patients for whom they would like to prescribe Benlysta are not included as approved indications. The following patient types were mentioned most often as the types they would like to treat with Benlysta: African Americans, patients with renal disease, patients with CNS disease, and patients with severe SLE.

“Rheumatologists are looking for new agents to help them with their refractory patients who suffer from multiple clinical manifestations without the serious side effects. Unfortunately, Benlysta does not have indications in many of the patient subtypes with the greatest unmet need,” said analyst Greta Unger. “Physicians also expressed interest in an agent that is able to curb disease activity and prevent disease progression, which would ultimately lead to a reduction in the number of refractory patients.”

Source: BioTrends Research Group; April 25, 2013.

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