Plaquenil vs. Benlysta

Are Plaquenil and Benlysta the Same Thing?

Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) and Benlysta (belimumab) are used to treat systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Plaquenil is also used to treat or prevent malaria and to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Plaquenil and Benlysta belong to different drug classes. Plaquenil is an antimalarial medication and Benlysta is a monoclonal antibody.

Side effects of Plaquenil and Benlysta that are similar include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain or cramps, diarrhea, or headache.

Side effects of Plaquenil that are different from Benlysta include loss of appetite, weight loss, dizziness, spinning sensation, ringing in your ears, mood changes, nervousness, irritability, skin rash, itching, or hair loss.

Side effects of Benlysta that are different from Plaquenil include pain in your arms or legs, trouble sleeping (insomnia), migraine, fever, depression, urinary tract infection (UTI), decreased white blood cell count (leukopenia), and cold symptoms such as stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, cough (bronchitis), and sore throat.

Both Plaquenil and Benlysta may interact with cancer medications.

Plaquenil may also interact with acetaminophen, tuberculosis medications, birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, arthritis medications, ACE inhibitors, antibiotics, antifungals, cholesterol medications, HIV/AIDS medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or seizure medications.

Benlysta may also interact with “live” vaccines, cyclophosphamide, drugs that weaken your immune system such as steroids and medicines to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ.

QUESTION

Lupus is an infection. See Answer

What Are Possible Side Effects of Plaquenil?

Common side effects of Plaquenil include:

  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • stomach pain or cramps,
  • loss of appetite,
  • weight loss,
  • diarrhea,
  • dizziness,
  • spinning sensation,
  • headache,
  • ringing in your ears,
  • mood changes,
  • nervousness,
  • irritability,
  • skin rash,
  • itching, or
  • hair loss.

Tell your doctor if you experience serious side effects of Plaquenil including:

  • muscle weakness,
  • twitching,
  • uncontrolled movement,
  • loss of balance or coordination,
  • blurred vision,
  • light sensitivity,
  • seeing halos around lights,
  • pale skin,
  • easy bruising or
  • bleeding,
  • confusion,
  • unusual thoughts or behavior, or
  • seizures (convulsions).

What Are Possible Side Effects of Benlysta?

Common side effects of Benlysta include:

  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea,
  • stomach pain,
  • pain in your arms or legs,
  • trouble sleeping (insomnia),
  • headache (migraine),
  • fever,
  • depression,
  • urinary tract infection,
  • decreased white blood cell count (leukopenia), and
  • cold symptoms such as stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, cough (bronchitis), and sore throat.

Tell your doctor if you have any serious side effects, including:

  • mental/mood/behavior changes (such as new or worsening depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, or thoughts about hurting yourself or others),
  • chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling,
  • wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing, or
  • signs of cancer (such as fever, night sweats, unusual tiredness, unexplained weight loss, swollen glands, and unusual lumps or growths).

What Is Plaquenil?

Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) is an antimalarial medication used to treat or prevent malaria, a disease caused by parasites, which enter the body through the bite of a mosquito. Plaquenil is also used to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and discoid or systemic lupus erythematosus. Plaquenil is available in generic form.

What Is Benlysta?

Benlysta (belimumab) is a monoclonal antibody indicated for the treatment of adult patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Benlysta has not been evaluated in patients with severe active lupus nephritis or severe active central nervous system lupus.

What Drugs Interact With Plaquenil?

Plaquenil may interact with acetaminophen, cancer medications, tuberculosis medications, birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, arthritis medications, ACE inhibitors, antibiotics, antifungals, cholesterol medications, HIV/AIDS medications, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or seizure medications. Tell your doctor all medications you use.

What Drugs Interact With Benlysta?

Formal drug interaction studies have not been performed with Benlysta. Before you receive Benlysta, tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Benlysta will harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant during your treatment with Benlysta. Tell your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Benlysta passes into your breast milk. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you will receive Benlysta or breastfeed. You should not do both.

SLIDESHOW

Lupus Symptoms, Rash, and Treatment See Slideshow

How Should Plaquenil Be Taken?

The adult dose of Plaquenil to suppress malaria is 400 mg on the same day each week. The pediatric weekly suppressive dosage is 5 mg/kg of body weight. The adult dose of Plaquenil to treat an acute attack of malaria is an initial dose of 800 mg followed by 400 mg in six to eight hours and 400 mg for two more days. To treat lupus erythematosus, the average adult dose is 400 mg once or twice daily.

How Should Benlysta Be Taken?

The recommended dosage regimen for Benlysta is 10 mg/kg at 2-week intervals for the first 3 doses and at 4-week intervals thereafter.

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References

FDA. Plaquenil Product Information.
https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/009768s037s045s047lbl.pdf
GSK. Benlysta Product Information.
https://www.benlysta.com

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