Most Rheumatologists Believe that a Steroid-Sparing Effect Would Be an Important Benefit of a New Drug for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Benlysta Has Enabled SLE Patients to Decrease Their Steroid Dose Or Stop Taking Steroids Entirely, According to a New Report from BioTrends Research Group

Dec 03, 2013, 09:00 ET from BioTrends Research Group

EXTON, Pa., Dec. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- BioTrends Research Group, one of the world's leading research and advisory firms for pharmaceutical and healthcare issues, finds that 80 percent of surveyed rheumatologists agree that a steroid-sparing effect would be an important benefit of a new drug for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). These survey findings align with the fact that use of corticosteroids, particularly the high-dose and/or long-term use that is common in the treatment of SLE, is associated with a variety of side effects including increased risk of infection, osteoporosis, osteonecrosis, accelerated atherogenesis, Cushingoid features and weight gain.


However, the ChartTrends: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 2013 (US) report finds that rheumatologists still rely on steroids to gain rapid control over SLE flares and to maintain a quiescent disease state in a large proportion of SLE patients because safer, equally effective alternatives are unavailable. The findings reveal that 40 percent of moderate to severe SLE patients are taking steroids, and 62 percent were prescribed steroids at least once in the past year.

The report also finds that almost three-quarters of rheumatologists believe that GlaxoSmithKline's Benlysta is an important advance for their patients with moderate to severe SLE. Further, two-thirds of rheumatologists agree that use of Benlysta should allow more patients to have a steroid-free regimen. Data from the patient audit portion of the study corroborates this as 42 percent of surveyed rheumatologists' Benlysta patients have stopped taking steroids entirely. In addition, half of their Benlysta patients decreased their steroid dose while on the drug.

"Rheumatologists know that the chronic/high-dose corticosteroid use that is pervasive in SLE is associated with a variety of serious and often irreversible side effects. However, steroids are reliably effective, so their use represents a careful balance between controlling disease-induced damage and therapy-induced damage," said Decision Resources Group Analyst Laura Croal, Ph.D. "Benlysta has met the need for steroid-sparing agents to some degree. However, perceptions of modest efficacy and slow onset to action in the face of its high cost have restricted its use. Therefore, need remains for new SLE therapies with steroid-sparing effects."

ChartTrends: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 2013 (US) is an annual, quantitative publication based on patient audit data collected from 1,006 SLE patient charts provided by 178, U.S. rheumatologists in July - August 2013. The study is designed to compare what physicians self-report about disease management to what actually occurs at the patient level. Through an in-depth review of specific patient charts, details such as product initiation, switching, concomitant medications, acute flare management and patient demographic variables help define patient types and identify drivers of therapy and brand selection as well as dosing trends among rheumatologists.

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SOURCE BioTrends Research Group