New Lupus Drug Promises to Help Many
About nine months ago, I was officially diagnosed with Lupus. I didn't know much about the disease before that day when I heard the doctor tell me he was pretty sure that was the reason for my joint pain and extreme fatigue and headaches. But since then, I have learned an awful lot about this auto-immune disease that plagues about 1.5 million Americans and about 5 million worldwide.
Lupus is a chronic auto-immune disease which causes one's immune system to treat different body tissue as foreign and thus attack it. Although people of varying races and genders have Lupus, it is predominantly a disease that affects women of child-bearing age (15-44). Even Lady Gaga is rumored to have it. There are a few treatment options MDs can use to minimize the effects of Lupus, but there is not a cure. As I am learning, most people with Lupus can expect to live a full life, just one that is somewhat regularly interrupted by flares of varying severity. And for the last few decades, there have not been very many advances in the treatment options for Lupus.
The FDA held a panel last week to decide if Benlysta, a drug developed as part of the Human Genome Project, is safe to be released for use in Lupus patients. There are some concerns about the potential side effects and the overall efficacy of the drug. But for the most part, it seems to really reduce symptoms and flare-ups. To me, this is really good news.
For the first time in decades, there is hope of a treatment that will really work. There is hope that people who suffer so much more than I do might actually get some relief. There is hope for someone like me, very new to this "chronic-illness journey," that maybe my road won't be as rocky as it could otherwise be.
This may not be big news for most people. But anyone who has Lupus or loves someone who has Lupus feels otherwise. I hope that the FDA doesn't drag its feet in getting this drug to market. It really could help so many people. Maybe even me. But in the meantime, at least it is a ray of hope. And that is something in itself.