Drug targeted at treatment of lupus available for the first time

A drug that specifically treats lupus is finally available on the market - the first such development in more than 50 years.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body turns on itself by producing antibodies that attack tissue and organs. This causes pain, fatigue, and potentially fatal organ damage and complications.

Dr Leong Keng Hong, a rheumatologist from Gleneagles Medical Centre, said existing treatments have been limited and involves a "blanket approach" that suppresses the entire immune system. This in turn causes a range of serious and often unacceptable side effects.

The availability of Benlysta, which is a more targeted form of treatment, is thus welcomed, added Dr Leong.