The Federal Drug Administration has approved the first new drug to treat lupus in more than half a century.
Benlysta was approved on Wednesday to offer people with the often debilitating immune system disease a new option of treatment since the only drugs approved to treat lupus are aspirin, approved in 1948, Plaquenil, a malaria drug, and corticosteroids.
Although passed by an advisory committee 13-2 back in November, the results of this new drug are marginal at best.
The drug wasn't tested on those with severe cases of the disease and according to data from the clinical trials, about 11 patients must be treated for just 1 to benefit.
Unfortunately, African-Americans, who have a higher incidence of the disease, did not seem to respond to treatment with Benlysta.
However, since too few of them participated in the trial to draw definitive conclusions, the company behind the drug has agreed to do another study to assess the effectiveness and safety of the drug in people of African descent.
The new treatment, developed by the company Human Genome Sciences, is estimated to cost about $35,000 a year, so let's hope despite the marginal testing results, it really helps some people!