May 10 is World Lupus Day, the 7th aimed at expanding research, awareness, and services for5 million patients worldwide.

Lupus erythematosus is a group of debilitating, autoimmune, inflammatory diseases that may affect any organ, and that can only be managed but not cured. (For those that watch The Voice, Seal is scarred by discoid lupus erythematosus.)

Developments in disease modifying drugs sees patients currently being recruited for a small number of trials into the safety and efficacy of treating lupus with epratuzumab, belimumab,and abatacept.

Myfortic®(mycophenolate, Novartis) is the first selective immunosuppressant to acquire sufficient evidence to achieve approval under the PBS for management of WHO Class III, IV or V lupus nephritis, described by Tanya Plibersek as “a rare illness with a high clinical need that is knownto particularly affect the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population”.

Immunsuppressants of this potency must be reserved for severe organ-threatening disease because side effects are common and significant, in this case including lymphoma, liver, renal and pulmonary damge, gastrointestinal disorders, and susceptability to infection. Regular blood counts are necessary.

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