The new weight management drug Saxenda® has been shown to be safe and effective as part of an obesity treatment that includes reduced calorie in take and increased activity. Read on to find out how it works and if it might be appropriate for you.
What is Saxenda®?
A 3.0 mg dose of liraglutide marketed under the name Saxenda® is the newest drug that has been approved by the FDA as a treatment option for individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater or a BMI of 27 or greater and the presence of at least one additional weight related condition including abnormally high blood pressure, elevated blood fats or type two diabetes. A lower dose of liraglutide, also known as Victoza has been successfully used for the treatment of type two diabetes. Once individuals on Victoza began reporting weight loss researchers started studying the weight loss benefits of liraglutide.
How does it work?
Saxenda® is a clear, colourless solution that must be administered as an injection into the abdomen, thigh or upper arm. Saxenda® is approved for use in addition to a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management in adult patients who meet the above criteria. Saxenda® plays two main roles on the body through mimicking the action of a hormone called glucagon like peptide (GLP-1). Through mimicking this hormone Saxenda® is able to slow gastric emptying, increase feelings of fullness and insulin is promptly absorbed when blood sugar levels are high. This results in reduced weight via decreased calorie intake and controlled blood glucose levels. Individuals taking oral medications to help their body make more insulin should monitor blood glucose levels when taking Saxenda®, as dosing adjustments may need to be made by their healthcare provider. Saxenda® should not be used in combination with Victoza, insulin or any other medication that mimics the action of GLP-1.
Is it safe?
The cost of this medication is very high in comparison to other drug options for obesity treatment. If insurance coverage is not available this treatment costs over one thousand dollars a month. The main side effects reported while using this drug include gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation). Upon starting Saxenda® it is required that individuals begin at a lower dose and following a dosing schedule to help minimize these gastrointestinal side effects. Additional side effects reported in patients taking Saxenda® included pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, renal impairment and a raised heart rate. Individuals who have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia should not use this drug as laboratory studies with rats have shown thyroid tumours to be associated with liraglutide.
How much weight will I lose?
Several clinical trials have been completed to demonstrate the effectiveness of Saxenda®. The article entitled “Liraglutide: A New Option for the Treatment of Obesity” identified five clinical trials that focused on this medications role in treating obesity. The data from these clinical trials demonstrated that liraglutide can successfully achieved a weight loss of five to ten percent or more of initial body weight. These results are significant, as a weight loss of five to ten percent of initial body weight has been shown to be clinically important in improving obesity related risk factors. To receive the weight loss benefits of this drug it must be taken daily long term as weight loss will not be maintained when the administration of this drug is stopped.
For those interested in a miracle or magic-bullet “weight-loss” drug, this unfortunately isn’t it. However, Saxenda® is shown to be safe and effective as part of a weight management regime that includes addressing individual lifestyle and psychological contributors to obesity – a program that we at PfHW are currently developing. If you are currently using Saxenda® or considering it, please also consider contacting us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our upcoming 52-Week Fundamental (aka the “Saxenda® Support”) Program.
Byetta, Victoza, Bydureon: Diabetes drugs and weight loss. (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2016, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/expert-answers/byetta/faq-20057955
Nuffer, W. A., & Trujillo, J. M. (2015). Liraglutide: A New Option for the Treatment of Obesity. Pharmacotherapy: The Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy Pharmacotherapy, 35(10), 926-934. doi:10.1002/phar.1639
Saxenda® - FDA prescribing information, side effects and uses. (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2016, from https://www.drugs.com/pro/saxenda.html