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GSK Announces US FDA Approval of Benlysta (Belimumab) for Pediatric Patients With Active Lupus Nephritis

  • Benlysta is now the first and only biologic approved for adults and children who have lupus or lupus nephritis

GSK plc (LSE/NYSE: GSK) today announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Benlysta (belimumab) for the treatment of children aged 5 to 17 with active lupus nephritis (LN) who are receiving standard therapy. Lupus nephritis is a serious inflammation of the kidneys caused by lupus, which can lead to end-stage kidney disease, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.i The approval extends the current indication in the US to include both lupus and active LN for the intravenous formulation in the pediatric patient population.

Please see US Prescribing Information for Benlysta.

This is the first FDA-approved treatment for pediatric LN, which remains a driving factor in increased complications, hospitalizations and mortality rates in childrenii. Prior to this, treatment options for children were mainly limited to use of non-selective immunosuppressants and corticosteroids.

“Active lupus nephritis is a potential serious complication in children with lupus, with most cases occurring within the first two years after their initial lupus diagnosis,” said Stevan W. Gibson, President and CEO, Lupus Foundation of America. “This approval marks a significant step forward in providing treatment options to these children at risk of incurring kidney damage early on in life.”

“The long-term goal of lupus nephritis management in adults and children is to preserve renal function while minimizing treatment-related toxicities and associated morbidity,” said Herson Quinones, VP, Specialty and Pipeline US Medical Affairs, GSK. “This Benlysta approval highlights GSK’s commitment to bring treatment options to children living with lupus nephritis. This is another example of how GSK continues to get ahead of this burdensome disease by focusing on science and being grounded in over a decade of clinical experience.”

Through ongoing research, GSK is committed to improving the lives of those living with lupus and researching ways to prevent organ and kidney damage in adults and children living with lupus and active LN.

About lupus nephritis (LN)

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common form of lupus, is a chronic, incurable, autoimmune disease associated with a range of symptoms that can fluctuate over time including painful or swollen joints, extreme fatigue, unexplained fever, skin rashes and organ damage. In lupus nephritis (LN), SLE causes kidney inflammation (swelling or scarring) of the small blood vessels that filter wastes in your kidney (glomeruli) and sometimes the kidneys, by attacking them like they would attack a disease.ii

LN can lead to end-stage kidney disease, which requires kidney dialysis or a transplant. Despite improvements in both diagnosis and treatment over the last few decades, LN remains an indicator of poor prognosis.iii,iv Manifestations of LN include proteinuria, elevations in serum creatinine and the presence of urinary sediment.

About BENLYSTA (belimumab)

BENLYSTA, a BLyS-specific inhibitor, is a human monoclonal antibody that binds to soluble BLyS. BENLYSTA does not bind B cells directly. By binding BLyS, BENLYSTA inhibits the survival of B cells, including autoreactive B cells, and reduces the differentiation of B cells into immunoglobulin-producing plasma cells. First approved in 2011, it is the first and only approved biologic for both SLE and LN in more than 50 years.

The following information is based on the US Prescribing Information for BENLYSTA in licensed indications only. Please consult the full Prescribing Information for all the labelled safety information for BENLYSTA.


BENLYSTA is indicated for patients aged ≥5 with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or active lupus nephritis who are receiving standard therapy. BENLYSTA is not recommended in patients with severe active central nervous system lupus.



Previous anaphylaxis with BENLYSTA.


Serious Infections: Serious and sometimes fatal infections have been reported and occurred more frequently with BENLYSTA. Use caution in patients with severe or chronic infections, and consider interrupting therapy in patients with a new infection.

Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML): Cases of JC virus-associated PML resulting in neurological deficits, including fatal cases, have been reported. If PML is confirmed, consider stopping immunosuppressant therapy, including BENLYSTA.

Hypersensitivity Reactions (Including Anaphylaxis): Acute hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylaxis and death, and infusion-related reactions have been reported. Generally, reactions occurred within hours of the infusion but may occur later, including in patients who have previously tolerated BENLYSTA. Non-acute hypersensitivity reactions (eg, rash, nausea, fatigue, myalgia, headache, and facial edema) typically occurred up to a week after infusion. Monitor patients during and after treatment and be prepared to manage anaphylaxis and infusion-related reactions. Be aware of the risk of hypersensitivity reactions, which may present as infusion-related reactions. Discontinue immediately in the event of a serious reaction. With intravenous administration, if an infusion reaction develops, slow or interrupt the infusion.

Depression and Suicidality: Depression and suicidality were reported in patients receiving BENLYSTA. Before adding BENLYSTA, assess patients’ risk of depression and suicide and monitor them during treatment. Instruct patients/caregivers to contact their HCP if they experience new/worsening depression, suicidal thoughts/behavior, or other mood changes.

Malignancy: There is an increased risk of malignancies with the use of immunosuppressants. The impact of BENLYSTA on the development of malignancies is unknown.

Immunization: Live vaccines should not be given for 30 days before or concurrently with BENLYSTA as clinical safety has not been established.

Use With Biologic Therapies: BENLYSTA has not been studied and is not recommended in combination with other biologic therapies, including B-cell targeted therapies.


The most common serious adverse reactions in adult SLE clinical trials were serious infections; some were fatal. The most common adverse reactions (≥5%) were nausea, diarrhea, pyrexia, nasopharyngitis, bronchitis, insomnia, pain in extremity, depression, migraine, pharyngitis, and injection site reactions (subcutaneous injection).

Adverse reactions reported in clinical trials with SLE pediatric patients (≥5 years) and adult patients with lupus nephritis were consistent with those observed in adult SLE trials.


Pregnancy: There are insufficient data in pregnant women to establish whether there is drug-associated risk for major birth defects or miscarriage. After a risk/benefit assessment, if prevention is warranted, women of childbearing potential should use contraception during treatment and for ≥4 months after the final treatment.

Pregnancy Registry: HCPs are encouraged to register patients and pregnant women are encouraged to enroll themselves by calling 1-877-681-6296.

About GSK

GSK is a global biopharma company with a purpose to unite science, technology, and talent to get ahead of disease together. Find out more at

Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements

GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Such factors include, but are not limited to, those described in the Company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2021, GSK’s Q1 Results for 2022 and any impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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i National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Lupus and Kidney Disease (Lupus Nephritis). Available at

ii Ardoin, S.P., Daly, R., Merzoug, L. et al. Research priorities in childhood-onset lupus: results of a multidisciplinary prioritization exercise. Pediatr Rheumatol 2019; 17, 32.

iii National Kidney Foundation, Lupus and Kidney Disease (Lupus Nephritis). Available at

iv Gordon C, Hayne D, Pusey C, et al. European Consensus Statement on the Terminology used in the Management of Lupus Glomerulonephritis. Lupus 2009;18:257-26.

v Waldman M and Appel GB. Update of the Treatment of Lupus Nephritis. Kidney International 2006;70:1403-1412.


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