Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect any tissue (joints, heart, kidneys, lungs, etc.) and can be fatal. Currently there is no cure and corticosteroids and immunosuppressants are commonly prescribed to patients. The biotech company Human Genome Sciences and its partner GlaxoSmithKline are now ready to submit a new drug for approval after having succeeded in two pivotal studies. Benlysta (belimumab) is the first new treatment for lupus in more than 40 years.
It seems that the two companies are considering the use of social media during the launch, Medical Marketing and Media reports. Because lupus is a relatively rare disease it seems to make sense to develop an online communication strategy in which advocacy groups would play a key role. A good execution of the strategy could lead to patients who are better informed and educated on the use of the drug and therefore to an optimal clinical outcome.