Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) is an autoimmune disease which is characterized by inflammation of tissue in the body. Immune response is directed toward body’s own cells, resulting in acute or chronic inflammation. Symptoms of lupus are general and hence often mistaken with symptoms of other diseases. This results in unnoticed progression of disease in the body. Common symptoms include fever, fatigue, skin rashes, malaise, joint pain, and temporary loss of cognitive ability. The disease is more common in women and usually affects individuals in the age group of 25 to 45. Although the main cause of disease is unknown, it is linked to genetic and hormonal factors. In several instances, drug-induced lupus erythematosus is also observed commonly against drugs such as isoniazid, hydralazine and procainamide.
The prevalence of lupus is higher in Europe and Australia as compared to North America. In North America, the disease is more prevalent among Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Among the European countries Sweden, Iceland, Spain had the highest prevalence according to an article published in 2006 in Lupus Journal. Currently no cure for lupus exists, but the disease is treated with immunosuppressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and intravenous immunoglobulins. GSK manufactured Benlysta (belimumab) is a B lymphocyte stimulator, received FDA approval in 2011 for treatment of lupus. Ibuprofen and aspirin are widely prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs for suppressing symptoms of lupus. Immunosuppressants such as CellCept (Mycophenolate mofetil) by Roche, Neoral (Cyclosporine) by Novartis, Imuran (Azathioprine) by GSK are also commonly prescribed for lupus treatment.
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The market is mainly driven by increasing awareness of disease diagnosis and treatment in more prevalent nations such as Europe and Asia. Consistent research and development activities will set newer boundaries as better products hit the market. Companies such as Eli Lilly, UCB, Anthera Pharmaceuticals are expected to launch similar treatment options for lupus in the near future.
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