Benlysta (belimumab) is a prescription drug that’s used to treat lupus and a complication of lupus. Benlysta’s cost may depend on factors such as your dosage, whether you have health insurance, and the form you’re prescribed.
Together with other medications, Benlysta is prescribed for adults and some children to treat:
The active ingredient in Benlysta is belimumab. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.)
Benlysta comes in two forms:
- a powder that’s mixed with sterile water to make a liquid solution that’s given as an intravenous (IV) infusion (an injection into your vein given over time)
- a liquid solution in prefilled syringes or autoinjector pens that’s given as an injection under the skin
For more details on Benlysta, see this in-depth article.
The price you pay for Benlysta can vary. Your cost may depend on your treatment plan, your health insurance (if you have it), and which specialty pharmacy* you use. And if you receive Benlysta as an intravenous (IV) infusion at your doctor’s office or another healthcare facility, you’ll want to know how much you have to pay for the visit.
To find out how much you’ll pay for Benlysta, talk with your doctor, or insurance provider.
Note: If you have insurance, you may need to get prior authorization before your insurance provider will cover Benlysta. This means your insurer and your doctor will discuss Benlysta in regard to your treatment. Then the insurance company will determine whether the drug is covered. If Benlysta requires prior authorization and you don’t receive it before you start treatment, you could pay the full cost of the drug.
Be sure to ask your insurance company whether Benlysta requires prior authorization.
* Specialty pharmacies carry medications that are complex, have high prices, are difficult to take, or have special dosage or storage requirements.
Benlysta is a biologic drug, which means it’s made from parts of living organisms. It doesn’t come in a biosimilar form. Biosimilars are like generic drugs. Unlike generics, which are made for nonbiologic drugs, biosimilars are made for biologic drugs.
Why is there such a cost difference between biologic drugs and biosimilar drugs?
Biologic drugs can be expensive because of the research and testing needed to ensure their safety and effectiveness. The manufacturer of a biologic drug can sell it for up to
12 years. When the biologic drug’s patent expires, other drug manufacturers can create biosimilar versions. This competition in the market may lead to lower costs for biosimilars. And because biosimilars are very similar to biologic drugs, they don’t need to be studied again. This can also lead to lower costs for biosimilars.
If you need help covering the cost of Benlysta or understanding your insurance, check out these resources:
On these sites, you can find insurance information, details on drug assistance programs, and links to savings cards and other services.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about Benlysta and cost.
What’s the cost of Benlysta without insurance vs. with insurance?
The cost of Benlysta without insurance versus with insurance can vary based on several factors.
Some factors that may affect your cost of Benlysta with or without insurance include:
- your treatment plan and drug dosage
- whether you receive Benlysta as an injection under the skin or as an intravenous (IV) infusion
- where you receive the IV infusion
- whether you’re eligible for any savings programs
And some factors that may affect your cost with insurance include:
- your health insurance plan benefits
- any prior authorization requirements of your health insurance
To find out more about your cost with and without insurance, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. If you have health insurance, you can also talk with your insurance provider.
Does the IV infusion form of Benlysta cost more than its injection form?
Yes, it’s possible that receiving Benlysta as an IV infusion may cost more than receiving it as an injection under the skin.
If your doctor prescribes the prefilled syringes or autoinjector pens for you, you’ll give yourself Benlysta injections at home.
In comparison, when Benlysta is prescribed as an IV infusion, it may be given by a healthcare professional at your doctor’s office or another healthcare facility.* Depending on your health insurance, this may increase your cost. But in some cases, it may actually lower your cost.
To find out how these two forms vary in cost, talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or health insurance provider.
* Some people receive the IV infusion at home.
Is Benlysta covered by Medicare?
Possibly. Whether Medicare covers Benlysta depends on the details of your specific Medicare plan. It may also depend on whether you’re receiving it as an injection or an IV infusion.
When Benlysta is given as an IV infusion in a doctor’s office or another healthcare facility, it may be covered by Medicare Part B. This is the part of Medicare that covers outpatient medical services.
To find out whether your plan covers Benlysta, talk with your plan provider. Your doctor or pharmacist will likely be able to provide more information, too.
If you still have questions about the cost of Benlysta, talk with your doctor. They may be able to give you a better idea of what you’ll pay for this drug. But if you have health insurance, you’ll need to talk with your insurance provider to learn the actual cost you’d pay for Benlysta.
Examples of questions you may want to ask your doctor or insurance provider include:
- Are there lower cost options to treat lupus?
- Does my dosage of Benlysta affect my cost?
- What are some options if I can’t afford my medication?
- Is it cheaper for me to give myself Benlysta at home or to receive it in a healthcare facility?
To learn more about Benlysta, see these articles:
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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.