Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Allergic reactions: In rare cases, some people may develop a serious allergic reaction to this medication. Signs of an allergic reaction include a severe rash, hives, swollen face or throat, or difficulty breathing. If these occur, get immediate medical attention.
Depression: This medication may cause symptoms of depression. If you have depression or a history of depression, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
If you experience symptoms of depression such as poor concentration, changes in weight, changes in sleep, decreased interest in activities, or notice them in a family member who is taking this medication contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Infection: This medication can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells), increasing the risk of developing an infection or reactivating an inactive infection (e.g., herpes, shingles). Avoid contact with people with contagious infections when possible.
If you notice signs of an infection such as fever, chills, pain, redness and swelling, pus, cough, or difficult or painful urination, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
This medication should also not be started while you have an active infection or a weakened immune system. While you are taking belimumab, your doctor will monitor you for signs of infection.
Infusion-related reactions: As with other biologic therapies, belimumab can cause severe infusion-related reactions, sometimes resulting in death. Your health care provider will closely monitor you during and after the infusion. These reactions usually occur within 30 minutes to 2 hours of starting the infusion.
If you experience symptoms of an infusion reaction, such as fever, chills, difficulty breathing, tightness of chest or throat, stomach upset, and rash, tell your health care provider immediately.
It is important to take the medication(s) recommended by your doctor before your infusion of belimumab. If you experience a severe infusion reaction, your doctor will give you additional medications to treat the reaction. Ask your doctor for more information.
Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML): There have been reports of PML after using belimumab. PML is a rare disorder that causes nerve damage in the brain. If you experience memory loss, vision loss, trouble thinking, or difficulty walking, contact your doctor immediately.
Vaccines: Belimumab may reduce the effectiveness of these vaccines. Live vaccines should not be given within 30 days of receiving belimumab, or while using belimumab. Talk to your doctor if you need any vaccinations while taking this medication.
Pregnancy: This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. If you may become pregnant, use an effective method of birth control while you are using this medication, and for at least 4 months after the last treatment. Tell your doctor immediately if you become pregnant.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if belimumab passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.